Last weekend, my husband, Tom, and I were visiting the beautiful city of Montreal for a 60th birthday party for a good friend. On Saturday morning we visited the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. We do this often. Whenever we are in a large city with a well-known art museum, we find time to visit there even if we have no idea what we will find. On this particular Saturday, we were well rewarded. The travelling exhibit was Beyond Pop: Tom Wesselmann. See the following website for more details http://www.tourisme-montreal.org/blog/arts-and-culture/tom-wesselmann-at-the-montreal-museum-of-fine-arts/. We had actually heard of Tom Wesselmann because of our prior adventures into the art world. But most people are not aware of his works. Tom was truly a pioneer in the world of pop art but was often overshadowed by his contemporaries, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. The reason for this was explained to us by our tour guide. Tom Wesselmann sold much of his early works in the 1950s because he needed to make a living. Thus, his works were all owned by private people in their homes rather than owned by museums. Fortunately, most of those works are now owned by the Wesselmann Estate and are on display by appointment at the estate. This exhibit is the first time his works have travelled outside of the estate.
The Pop Art movement started in the 1950s as artists took forms of advertising media and melded them into art. It is truly fascinating to me. Large billboards and cutouts of Wonder Bread and RC Cola added to a painting. Some of the works involved actual items like a small fan that actually ran. Or a black and white television set that was running inside the painting. The imaginations of these artists was just astounding.
The Exhibit starts with Wesselmann’s early years and progresses through his life. He passed away in 2004, I believe. His early works were all collages. Mostly because he was learning to paint and was not comfortable with his abilities as yet. Then he moved into collages mixed with painting. All of his early works incorporated a subject (usually a woman), a window and a “copy” of a piece of art such as Matisse, Gaugin, Degas, and Renoir. And almost always had an American flag in the painting, sometimes large, sometimes not so large.
His later works became more sculpture than painting. He began working in painted aluminum and steel. These were some of my favorites of his works. He loved bright, bold colors, which I adore!
I believe this exhibit is moving on to Texas, Virginia and Cincinnati. If you get a chance to view it, take advantage. It is a rare look at a truly amazing artist.