Still Life #60, 1973

Basel 2019
Other Materials
Oil on shaped canvases (six separate free-standing sections); 310.5 x 845.8 x 219.7 cm
Throughout his whole career, Tom Wesselmann explored the parameters of perception, scale, color, imagery, and genre. Between 1967 and 1981, Wesselmann created the ‘standing still life’ paintings, arrangements of multiple shaped canvases depicting intimate objects rendered in massive scale. These monumental works further develop tensions between two- and three-dimensionality that the artist began exploring in his earliest assemblages. The fusion of painting and sculpture places this series in a category of its own. Measuring almost 8½ meters across, Still Life #60 essentially dwarfs the viewer. The ring on the right of the work – the smallest element in the still life – is 1½ meters tall, and all of the other elements are scaled accordingly. The objects – fashionable sunglasses, nail polish, lipstick, and a necklace – are carefully arranged, as if on a bedside table, implying the presence of a woman in a state of undress – perhaps a reference to Wesselmann’s first series, ‘The Great American Nude.’ ‘We’ve got this giant thing that’s been abbreviated down,’ said the artist Michael Craig-Martin in conversation with Jeffrey Sturges of the Estate of Tom Wesselmann. ‘That’s an incredible visual exercise. […] And it’s to embody impact.’