Often isolating segments of the body—red lips with a cigarette, a single nipple, or a stylish shoe—his artworks aim to seize a viewer’s attention. Born on February 23, 1931 in Cincinnati, OH, he was drafted into the US Army to serve in the Korean War in 1952. Returning home after the war, he studied drawing at the Art Academy of Cincinnati before working as an illustrator of comic strips and men’s magazines. In 1956, he moved to New York where he attended the Cooper Union. Soon after graduation, Wesselmann founded the Judson Gallery, along with Jim Dine and Marcus Ratliff.
Beginning in the 1960s, with his 'Great American Nude' series, Wesselmann drew from Americana and media culture, to produce billboard-scaled paintings in flat bold colours. Through the following decades, the artist honed his idiosyncratic style while continuing to live in New York. Today, the artist’s works are in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., among others.