Tom Wesselmann was born February 23, 1931 in Cincinnati, Ohio. From 1949 to 1951 he studied at the Hiram College in Ohio, before studying psychology at the University of Cincinnati. In 1953, Wesslemann's studies were interrupted by a two-year enlistment in the army. Upon his return, Wesselmann received his bachelor's degree in psychology and moved to New York in 1956, where he studied at the Cooper Union School for Arts and Architecture. It was here that Wesselmann redirected his focus towards fine art. While in New York, Wesselmann worked as a cartoonist for several magazines and newspapers, as well as teaching high school in Brooklyn.
During the 1950's, Wesselmann created small collages that would be precursors to his later series Great American Nudes and Still Life. Using collages and assemblages, Wesselmann incorporated everyday objects and advertising into his works. By the 1960's, Wesselmann had become one of the leading Pop artists, favoring classical representation of still life, nudes, and landscape.
In 1962, Wesselmann had his first one-man show at Tanager Gallery, New York, and was also included in Recent Paintings U.S.A.: The Figure at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Over his career, Wesselman continued to experiment with his materials, creating free standing shaped canvases, which showed small intimate objects on a grand scale during the 1970's and metal works that resembled painted gestural brushstrokes through the 1980's and 90's
Wesselmann has been included in numerous public collections, including Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Hirschhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia; Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington DC; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Tom Wesselmann died December 17, 2004 in New York.