American artist Tom Wesselmann began his career in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, later moving to New York City to teach art, where his creativity blossomed, and he began his Great American Nude series.
For over a decade, Wesselmann added to the series, which consisted of works both small and large depicting the nude female form in a variety of poses, and always surrounded by objects familiar to his American audience, including ice cream sundaes, radiators, and Camel cigarettes, to name a few. These elements in Wesselmann’s work, which were sometimes collaged from photographs or painted by the artist himself, led many to include him in the burgeoning Pop Art movement of the 1960s.
Wesselmann himself rejected this label, saying he utilized the objects in his compositions not to make a statement on consumerism, but because of his interest in the aesthetics of the everyday. Indeed, the works in Wesselmann’s Great American Nude series show Coca-Cola bottles, presidential portraits, and rotary telephones decorating the background of each room; objects of American mundanity, juxtaposed with the playful and dynamic nude figures for which the artist is known.