American Art

Highlighting the work of Tom Wesselmann and Robert Rauschenberg
 
Dear Friends, Clients, Collectors, and Art Enthusiasts,

This week we wish to highlight the work of American artists 
Tom Wesselmann and Robert Rauschenberg
Tom Wesselmann, Study for smoker, 1976, oil on canvas, 11 5/8 x 11 5/8 in / 29.5 x 29.5 cm
 
“The prime mission of my art, in the beginning, and continuing still, is to make figurative art as exciting as abstract art” — Tom Wesselmann
A Word On This Work... 

As a leading artist of the 1960s Pop Art movement in New York, alongside Andy Warhol and James Rosenquist, Wesselmann looked to the everyday for inspiration, incorporating it into his work. He would paint with fantastically bright colours so as to depict ordinary things in a way that was just as striking as the dynamic work of the abstract expressionists. From one canvas to the next, all sorts of common objects can be found, from perfume and bright lips to cigarettes and flowers. 

Wesselmann is widely recognised for his prolific focus towards depicting the female body, from the voluptuous forms of his Great American Nude series, developed throughout the '60s, following on to the sensuous lips of his Smokers series which continued into the late '70s. The Smoker studies became one of his most recurrent themes, shifting away from his depictions of nude figures and turning his attentions towards a more specific focus on the mouth. 

Observing Study for smoker, 1976, the artist's style is immediately discernible. Wesselmann took photographs of his friend and model Danielle, working from these in order to create his oil canvases. The resultant image is one of intimate sensuality, as bold colours and realistic forms draw the observer into the scene, absorbed within the cloud of smoke, captivated by the polished fingernails and inviting lips of this anonymous woman. By painting only the mouth, abstractedly tipped on its side, Wesselmann accentuates the suggestiveness of this body part, transforming it into a symbol of modern consumerism.
 
En tant qu'artiste avec Andy Warhol et de James Rosenquist du mouvement Pop Art des années 1960 à New York, Wesselmann s'inspire des objets du quotidien pour sa peinture. Il peint avec des couleurs vives afin de représenter des choses ordinaires d'une manière frappante qui rappelle la dynamique des expressionnistes abstraits. D'une toile à l'autre, on trouve toutes sortes d'objets communs, des bouteilles de parfum, des cigarettes, des fleurs.

Wesselmann est largement reconnu pour sa représentation prolifique du corps féminin, des formes voluptueuses de sa série Great American Nude, développées tout au long des années 60, aux lèvres sensuelles de sa série Smoker qu'il poursuit jusqu'à la fin des années 70. Les études sur le fumeur sont devenues l'un de ses thèmes les plus récurrents, il s'éloigne de ses représentations de nus et se focalise sur la représentation de la bouche féminine.

Study for smoker, 1976, illustre parfaitement le style de l'artiste. Wesselmann a pris des photos de son amie et mannequin Danielle, il travaille à partir de celles-ci afin de créer ses huiles sur toile. Les résultats sont des peintures d'une sensualité intime, avec des couleurs audacieuses et des formes réalistes qui attirent l'oeil, on est absorbé dans le nuage de fumée, captivé par les ongles polis et les lèvres pulpeuses de cette femme anonyme. En ne peignant que la bouche, inclinée sur le côté de manière abstraite, Wesselmann accentue le caractère suggestif de cette partie du corps, la transformant en un symbole du consumérisme moderne, sinon en louant un érotisme certain.
 
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Tom Wesselmann

BIOGRAPHY


Tom Wesselmann was an American Pop artist best known for his collages, sculptures, and screenprints that stylized the female figure. Often isolating segments of the body—red lips with a cigarette, a single nipple, or a stylish shoe—his artworks aim was to seize a viewer’s attention. 

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Robert Rauschenberg, Mock Blue (Urban Bourbon Series), 1989, acrylic on enamelled aluminium, 48 1/4 x 36 1/4 in / 124.5 x 94 cm
 
"You can't make either life or art, you have to work in the hole in between, which is undefined. That's what makes the adventure of painting" — Robert Rauschenberg
A Word On This Work... 

Rauschenberg began his artistic production during the late '40s, in the wake of Abstract Expressionism. He wanted his work to bridge the gap between art and life, and to question the distinction between art and everyday objects. The artist employed a wide range of subjects, styles and materials, in line with his belief that, 'a painting is more like the real world if it's made out the real world.' Rauschenberg's approach was free and experimental, and his inventive use of materials broke down long-established distinctions between medium and genre. 

In his Urban Bourbon series (1988-96), Rauschenberg worked with silkscreened imagery and expressionistic paintwork on enamelled, mirrored, and anodised aluminium. Naming the series after the all-American whisky, it is wittily suggested that his paintings can be considered artistic reflections upon urban American society. His interest in the utilisation of metal as an artistic medium began in the mid '80s, as he exchanged canvas board for flat sheets of metal. 

Rauschenberg created a vivid collection of works during this time, juxtaposing the natural tones of different coloured metals, such as copper, brass and aluminium, with the application of acrylic and enamel paints and photographic images. Looking at Mock Blue, 1989, Rauschenberg's signature gestural style, or 'free-painting' technique as he liked to call it, is strikingly apparent. Against a sea blue backdrop, reflective depths overlap in an arrangement of green, red and yellow brushstrokes.
 
Rauschenberg commence sa production artistique à la fin des années 40, dans le sillage de l'expressionnisme abstrait. Il souhaite combler le fossé entre l'art et la vie quotidienne et remet en question la distinction entre les objets d'art et les objets du quotidien. L'artiste emploie un large éventail de sujets, de styles et de matériaux, conformément à sa croyance selon laquelle «une peinture ressemble davantage au monde réel si elle est faite à partir du monde réel». L'approche de Rauschenberg est libre et expérimentale, et son utilisation inventive de matériaux brise les distinctions établies entre médium et genre.

Dans sa série Urban Bourbon (1988-1996), Rauschenberg travaille avec des sérigraphies et de la peinture expressionniste sur de l'aluminium émaillé. Nommant même une de ses séries Urban Bourbon d'après le whisky américain dont il était un grand adepte, il suggère avec humour que sa peinture peut être considérée comme une réflexion artistique de la société urbaine américaine. Son intérêt pour le métal comme médium artistique commence au milieu des années 80, il échange alors le carton pour des feuilles de métal.

Rauschenberg crée une collection d'œuvres vibrantes pendant cette période, il juxtapose les tons naturels de différents métaux colorés, tels que le cuivre, le laiton et l'aluminium, avec la peinture acrylique et des représentations photographiques de l'imagerie populaire. Mock Blue, 1989, caractérise le style gestuel de Rauschenberg, sa technique de «peinture libre» comme il aimait l'appeler, est frappante. Sur un fond bleu océan, les profondeurs réfléchissantes se chevauchent dans un arrangement de coups de pinceau vert, rouge et jaune.
 
Robert Rauschenberg 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Robert Rauschenberg 

BIOGRAPHY


Robert Rauschenberg 
was a prominent member of the American Post-War avant-garde. He once said “If you do not change your mind about something when you confront a picture you have not seen before, you are either a stubborn fool or the painting is not very good”.

Click here for more on Rauschenberg...

 
If you would like to know more about our American Art collection, please do not hesitate to contact us. While our London gallery is temporarily closed, you can stay in touch with us through following our activity on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. We will also be updating our webpage regularly with information regarding artworks, artist information and upcoming art fairs we will be participating in. 

We send our best wishes for you all to stay safe during this time. 

Many thanks and kindest regards,

Daniel Boulakia 
Galerie Boulakia
41 Dover Street
London W1S 4NS
United Kingdom 

+44 (0) 75 5753 4491 
daniel@boulakia.gallery
Juin 1, 2020