Signed and dated 66 on the bottom exterior edge of the canvas, signed again, titled, dated, dedicated 'For Stanley with Affection - Tom Wesselmann,' and inscribed 'Collection Stanley Bard' on stretcher bar verso, oil on shaped canvas.
72 1/4 x 66 in. (183.5 x 167.6cm)
The Artist, New York, New York.
(Longtime tenant and art dealer Richard Librizzi facilitated the sale of this work to Stanley Bard from Tom Wesselmann).
Stanley Bard (acquired from the above in 2002).
And with a Sidney Janis Gallery New York label verso.
We are grateful to the Estate of Tom Wesselmann for its assistance in cataloguing this work.
Tom Wesselmann's visual lexicon is one of the most iconic and instantly recognizable of any artist working in the twentieth century. A leading figure in the American Pop Art movement, he rose to prominence in the 1960s, working in a style that uniquely blended contemporary images and pop culture with classical representation. The artist explored iconic subjects like the female nude, the landscape and the still life in new and innovative ways. The resulting paintings were boldly-colored, often erotically-charged, and always assertive. Perhaps the best known of these are his paintings from the Great American Nude series of the early 1960s, in which the female nude is portrayed in intense, bright (often patriotic) colors and exaggerated flattened forms. The images created in these, and other similar works, have come to be synonymous with Wesselmann's name and style.
Face #1 is an impressively sized oil on shaped canvas, executed in 1966, a rich and seminal period of the artist's career. During this time, the artist focused his interest on the nude even more specifically, moving away from a complete representation of the figure and concentrating on specific, highly sexualized elements of the female form, such as the mouth and breast. Wesselmann's decision to use shaped canvases to portray these forms gave these paintings a sculptural quality, which - in turn - imbued them with a particularly active energy that served to heighten their bold sensuality. Face #1 is an excellent example of the artist's work of this period. The woman's face is only partially shown, the artist choosing to emphasize her mouth, with her bright red lips erotically parted and painted with fetishistic focus against a highly sexualized cut-out relief. The painting calls to mind Leonard Cohen's famous 1974 song, "Chelsea Hotel No. 2", in which Cohen reminisces about a sexual encounter he shared with Janis Joplin at the hotel years earlier.
In October 2016, the Almine Rech Gallery held an important exhibition of Wesselman's work, inspired by the artist's seminal show at the Sidney Janis Gallery in 1970. The 2016 exhibition debuted the restaging of Wesselmann's key performance piece Bedroom Tit Box in Paris for the first time, and included many works from the same series as Face #1.
Like so many artists of the time, Wesselmann was drawn to the creative haven of the Chelsea Hotel, and found friendship with Stanley Bard. His fondness for Stanley is clear from the dedication on Face #1, which is inscribed on the stretcher bar verso, "For Stanley with affection - Tom Wesselmann."
Sold for $958,000 (buyer's premium included)