Born February 23, 1931, Wesselmann attended college in his native state of Ohio, first at Hiram University followed by the University of Cincinnati where he studied psychology. Wesselmann was drafted in the U.S. Army in 1952. It was during this time that he began to draw, becoming increasingly interested in cartoons. After being discharged, Wesselmann completed his degree in 1954 and went on to study drawing at The Art Academy of Cincinnati. In 1956 Wesselmann was accepted to Cooper Union at which time his focus drastically shifted to fine art. Rejecting abstract expressionism and the action painting of de Kooning which he so admired, Wesselman instead favored classical representations of the nude, still life, and landscape.
In search of his own style Wesselmann began to create collages and assemblages through found everyday objects and advertising ephemera. While continuing his experimentation with mixed media, Wesselmann became one of the founding members of the Judson gallery along with Mark Radcliff and Jim Dine. His Still Life’s and Great Nudes of the ‘60s and ‘70s won him acclaim for their flat forms, selectively shaped canvases, and intense color. The ‘80s and ‘90s were spent exploring sculpture; and, in the 21st century the artist returned to painting. Once again Wesselmann employed flat compositions, more defined lines, and a propensity toward primary colors all of which diminished the separation between his own figurative and abstract styles. Referencing Mondrian and Matisse as influential forces, Wesselmann created a last breadth of work before passing in December of 2004.