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Tom Wesselmann

American, 1931–2004

Art © Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Still Life #20, 1962

Mixed media
41 x 48 x 5 1/2 inches (104.1 x 121.9 x 14 cm)
Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1962

Tom Wesselmann is known as a Pop artist. Pop emerged in the 1960s, when artists began to adopt and adapt elements of popular culture into their work. Consumerism, mass production, and advertising were all sources of inspiration as artists tried to encourage people to look at the world around them, paying attention to everyday objects that might not normally be noticed.

This work is part of a series of still lifes Wesselmann created in the 1960s. The left side is comprised of functional items he collected then placed in a real cabinet above an actual sink—the light can be turned on or off and the cabinet opened or closed. On the right are two-dimensional representations of various types of food and drink, above which is a reproduction of a painting by the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian (1872–1944), who used the elements of art in their purest forms—straight lines, right angles, primary colors—in an attempt to represent a future utopian society. Wesselmann often included reproductions of work by other artists in his still lifes, in part to show that art—once so far removed from everyday life—had joined the commercial world.

Related Lesson Plans

How Observant Are You? (For Grades 3–12)

Your Own Special Exhibition (For Grades 5–12)


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