Tom Wesselmann, ‘Still Life #46’, 1965, Sotheby's

Property in which Sotheby’s has an Ownership Interest (see Conditions of Sale for further information)

Executed in 1965, this work is number 1 from an edition of 5.

From the Catalogue
Still Life #46 is one of Tom Wesselmann’s most iconic still life works and embodies a pivotal shift in the artist’s trajectory. Executed in 1964, Still Life #46 represents the exact moment in which Wesselmann reigned in the compositional structure of these works, presenting the quotidian objects themselves (rather than the environments in which these objects were placed) as the sole emphasis and focus of the work. As the oft-told story goes, Wesselmann was at his plastic manufacturer’s warehouse in Brooklyn when he spotted a “big, corny, red plastic relief apple. When he placed it on a shelf with a white background [at his home], it had such a visually intense presence to him that he felt staggered” (Slim Stealingworth, Tom Wesselmann, New York 1980, p. 43). This shining, flattened, hyperrealist apple, the very object which changed the course of Wesselmann’s career, is prominently featured in Still Life #46, resulting in what Stealingworth would only describe as “the most physically intense version of the object” (ibid., p. 43) possible, even further intensified through its mechanical illumination. Imitating the form of an illuminated gas station sign, Still Life #46 epitomizes Wesselmann’s search for such a heightened “intensity” through the use of a simplified and brightly colored visual vocabulary that speaks to an era of rising consumerism in America.

Wesselmann presented Still Life #46 as a wedding gift to Jerome and Helen Goodman in November 1967. Their union itself owes its beginning to Wesselmann. He introduced his close scientist and photographer friend Jerry to Helen, who had modeled for him on occasion, at a party in Claes Oldenburg's studio in 1967. Since Jerry's photos documented so much of Wesselmann's studio practice in the 1960s and 1970s, and Helen served as the figure for some of Wesselmann's earliest works and Helen Nude (1981), it is only fitting that Wesselmann gifted this seminal work to the new couple.
—Courtesy of Sotheby's

Minneapolis, Dayton's Gallery; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tom Wesselmann, March - July 1968, p. 9, illustrated (another example exhibited)
Tokyo, Isetan Museum of Art; Sapporo, Museum of Contemporary Art; Shiga, The Museum of Modern Art; Osaka, Museum of Art, Tom Wesselmann: A Retrospective Survey 1959-1992, September 1993 - March 1994, cat. no. 19, pp. 64-65, illustrated in color
Kunsthalle Tubingen; Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts; Berlin, Altes Museum; Munich, Museum Villa Stück; Kunsthal Rotterdam; Speyer, Historiches Museum der Pfalz; Paris, Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain; Madrid, Fundación Juan March; Barcelona, Palau de la Virreina; Lisbon, Culturgest; Nice, Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain, Tom Wesselmann: A Retrospective Survey 1959-1993, April 1994 - January 1997, pl. 27, illustrated in color
Rome, Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Tom Wesselmann, June - September 2005, p. 72, illustrated in color (another example exhibited)

Slim Stealingworth, Tom Wesselmann, New York 1980, pp. 41-43, illustrated in color
Sam Hunter, Tom Wesselmann, New York 1994, cat. no. 7, p. 12, illustrated in color

Jerome and Helen Goodman, Pound Ridge (gift of the artist in November 1967)
Private Collection, New York

About Tom Wesselmann

Tom Wesselmann is considered one of the major artists of New York Pop Art, along with Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Best known for his 1960s series “Great American Nude,” which featured flat figures in an intense palette of red, white, blue, and other patriotic colors, Wesselmann, in an effort to reject Abstract Expressionism, made collages and assemblages that incorporated everyday objects and advertising ephemera. In the early 1980s, he produced his first "Metal Works,” in which he shaped canvases and cut metal to create abstract three-dimensional images. In his final years, Wesselmann returned to the female form in the “Sunset Nudes” series, where the compositions, abstract imagery, and sanguine moods recall the odalisques of Henri Matisse.

American, 1931-2004, Cincinnati, OH, United States, based in New York, NY, United States