Must See Art: Tom Wesselmann at Gagosian Beverly Hills

‘Still Life #29,’ 1963, Oil and printed paper collaged on canvas, 9′ x 12′, ©Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY


This Thursday, Gagosian Beverly Hills will be launching a solo exhibition of rare works by Pop Art notable Tom Wesselmann. Wesselmann: 1963-1983 will feature seven pieces created by the artist, none of which have ever been shown on the West Coast. On view until August, the exhibition will showcase the commercial billboards Wesselmann began painting in 1962.


‘Still Life #61,’ 1976, Oil on shaped canvas in 4 parts, 8’8.5″ x 32’7″ x 6’7″, ©Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY


Born in Cincinnati in 1931, Wesselmann was an influential figure in the Pop Art world, with his massive paintings that recontextualized images from popular culture, like the Volkswagen Beetle seen in ‘Still Life #29.’

“I used what was around me, so my culture was what I used,” he once said about his work.

Part of ‘The Standing Still Lifes’ series, the seven works in Wesselmann: 1963-1983 were a highlight in the artist’s long career. Comprised of multiple canvases shaped like the objects they depict and mounted on both the wall and the ground, the pieces are three-dimensional scenescapes that pull you into their world. Known primarily for his work that showcases the female figure, these paintings incorporate everyday objects in exaggerated sizes, exploring sexuality and surrealism in an emotional and experimental way.


‘Still Life with Blue Jar and Smoking Cigarette,’ 1981, Oil on shaped canvas in 4 parts, 9′ x 18’5″ x 5’6″, ©Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY


“Wesselmann is an artist well known for his forthright and original standpoint on sexuality,” explains Jason Ysenburg, Director at Gagosian, “but that is only a part of his story. In the ‘Still Lifes,’ ‘Standing Still Lifes’ and ‘Bedroom Paintings,’ we are offered a glimpse into an enchanted world where scale, content and the juxtaposition of materials and images is surprising and innovative,” he continues. “What transpires are a group of paintings where sexuality is often implied rather than overtly expressed.”

Since his death in 2004, Wesselmann’s work has become only more sought after, and has been included in multiple exhibitions at The Whitney and MoMA. This latest exhibition follows another recent showcase, Tom Wesselmann: Standing Still Lifes at Gagosian in New York.


Wesselmann: 1963-1983 is on view from July 12 to August 24 at Gagosian Beverly Hills.


Photos: ‘Still Life #29’ by Jeffrey Sturges; ‘Still Life #61’ & ‘Still Life with Blue Jar and Smoking Cigarette’ by Rob McKeever; all courtesy the Estate of Tom Wesselmann and Gagosian

5 Star Art Shows You Must See This Weekend

Courtesy of John Waters and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York  © John Waters


Takashi Murakami at Gagosian Gallery, 555 West 24th Street, NYC
Murakami’s In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, has been open since November (and closing January 17,) but Saturday, January 10 marks the artist’s first #InstaMeet — get there at 12:30 to take an #ArtSelfie with Murakami himself. #InstaGold
@takashipom on Instagram


Helmut Lang at Sperone Westwater, 257 Bowery, NYC
Since annihilating his fashion archives 10 years ago, the reclusive designer turned artist has been working on sculptures made up of pulped fragments of collections past. This exhibition of sculptures is Lang’s first solo show in New York. Open through February 21.
Courtesy of Sperone Westwater


Henri Matisse at MoMA, 11 West 53rd Street, NYC
Visit MoMA this weekend to see Matisse’s famous cut-outs. The show was extended due to popular demand, so get there before February 10 to avoid closing week crowds.
@themuseumofmodernart on Instagram


John Waters at Marianne Boesky, 509 West 24th Street, NYC
Running through Valentine’s Day, this third solo show of John Waters at Marianne Boesky is titled, Beverly Hills John. The exhibition includes photoshop facelifts for Justin Bieber, Lassie, and Waters himself. Make sure you see “Kiddie Flamingos,” a G-rated version of the very X-rated “Pink Flamingos”.
Beverly Hills John, 2012, C-print, Image: 30 x 20 inches  76.2 x 50.8 cm, Framed: 36 1/2 x 26 1/2 inches, 92.7 x 67.3 cm, Edition of 5; Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York  © John Waters


Louise Bourgeois at Cheim & Read, 547 West 25th Street, NYC
Hurry up before it closes on January 10 to catch Louise Bourgeois’ Suspension. What secrets is the founder of confessional art telling now?
photograph taken by Brian Buckley for Cheim & Read, New York
Courtesy of Cheim & Read

What Can You Afford At Frieze Art Fair?

The New York art world exists in little pockets across the city.

There are the galleries in Chelsea, the museums along Fifth Avenue, the studios dotting Bushwick and now, the art fair that ate Randall’s Island.

That’s right, it’s Frieze, the American version of the British art spectacle (born from a magazine of the same name) that has artsy types from curators to performance weirdoes to—the horror!—regular people gearing up to cross the East River and check out what the fair, opening its inaugural U.S. appearance today with 180 exhibitors has to offer.

According to Amanda Sharp, who created the fair with Michael Slotover, it’s going to be as big as possible. Literally.

“We actually can’t build a bigger fair on that site—it’s built to its maximum size from year one,” she told ArtSpace. “It’s quite a shock when you walk out there and realize quite how big it is, but then I feel very comfortable with it because I know that the quality of the galleries is so strong.”

Indeed, galleries from blue-chip galleries like Gagosian and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise will be showing off their wares—and likely attracting some serious collectors. But what’s in it for those of us who aren’t looking to drop a year’s salary on a doodle?

Food. Namely stands from NYC favorites like Roberta’s, The Fat Radish, Frankies Spuntino, The Standard Biergarten and Sant Ambroeus as well as a mess of food trucks. And also culture!

A half-day ticket will run $25, and considering art lovers can take a relatively inexpensive ferry across the river to check out the fair – in a spot most New Yorkers rarely visit, nonetheless – a rare opportunity to see world-class art, travel by boat and eat artisan pizza with some of the city’s wealthiest collectors suddenly seems like a deal.

James Frey Teams Up With Gagosian to Publish Book About Drunk Jesus

James Frey, semi-memoirist and Oprah antagonist, is back and better than ever. Or weirder than ever. Frey is teaming up with Larry Gagosian to publish a new novel, The Final Testament of the Holy Bible. Gagosian will print a scant 11,000 copies and Frey will self-publish the book online. Do real publishers still not want anything to do with Frey after the Million Little Pieces debacle, even though his last book, Bright Shiny Morning, did pretty well? Or maybe the book isn’t…up to par. I haven’t read the thing, but as Frey told Page Six, it’s supposed to be “a theoretical third volume of the Bible — there was the Old, there was the New, and this is the Final.” That’s a pretty grand vision, especially when your Jesus is an alcoholic bachelor who sleeps with prostitutes.

The protagonist, Ben Jones, is a drunk who impregnates a prostitute, smokes pot, and fools around with men for extra shock value. He’s also the Messiah, duh. I think the book’s aiming for some overarching point about the malevolent influence of religion: Ben tells his disciples that faith is a “means to rationalize more evil in this world than anything in history.” The book will be released on Good Friday, in case there’s any chance of someone missing the point.

As for his method of publishing, Frey said that “I tried to write a radical book. I’m releasing it in a radical way. Never again will somebody release my work in a way that doesn’t make me comfortable.” You can’t blame the guy. No one really knows what happened with A Million Little Pieces, the book that made him a pariah. But Frey has said in interviews that the decision to publish the book as a memoir instead of a novel, thereby claiming 100% accuracy, was not his. He became a national punching bag during the kerfuffle, and you can understand why he’d rather steer clear of traditional publishing either way.

So. The Final Testament of the Holy Bible, out April 22nd. I wonder if Oprah knows about this.

Rauschenberg Comes to the Gagosian

Beginning tomorrow, contemporary art overlord Larry Gagosian will present a retrospective of the late American artist Robert Rauschenberg’s selected works. If you’re a fan of Americana mixed with the provocative, you should stop by. Or, if you’re Steve Cohen/the emir of Qatar, maybe buy the whole show.

A bit on Rauschenberg: He was born Milton, which we think is a superior name to Robert, but when you’re in the upper echelon of modern masters, it hardly matters what your friends call you. He lived to see his art exhibited at such epicenters as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOCA in Los Angeles, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. His works fetch upwards of $14 million at Christie’s. Rauschenberg worked in a variety of mediums—including painting, sculpture, and collage. This particular show is at Gagosian’s West 21st Street location. See it. Know art.