3 questions to Cristiano Riamondi, scientific coordinator of the exhibition "Tom Wesselmann, The Promise of Happiness" at Villa Paloma
What was the starting point of this project ?
This solo show of Tom Wesselmann (1931-2004) – among the most famous representatives of the American Pop Art movement – is a new opportunity for the NMNM to present the work of a key artist of the 20th century. The idea wasn’t just to do a retrospective of the artist’s work, which is why we asked Chris Sharp – curator of the exhibition – to focus on a number of very specific aspects of Tom Wesselmann’s production.
What themes will be explored in this exhibition?
The exhibition takes its title from Stendhal’s celebrated claim that, “La beauté n’est que la promesse du bonheur,” (Beauty is but the promise of happiness). It concentrates on the artist’s portrayal of woman, which has been known to draw fire for its purported objectification, this exhibition argues for a much more nuanced understanding of the Wesselmann’s rapport with the female subject.
Long considered one of the key American Pop artists as well as one of its great formal innovators, Wesselmann’s specific critical contribution to the movement has been a source of debate for decades.
The exhibition intends to clarify this debate, locating his contribution in the taboo subject of sexuality, portrayals thereof, and its indissociable link to the boundless promise conveyed by the cultural, material and economic bounty of postwar American society.
What will the visitors seat Villa Paloma?
The exhibition features painting, drawings and sculptures made within thirty years, from 1963 to 1993. The public will be able to discover 25 works, some of them from his famous series Great American Nudes, Bedroom Paintings, Seascapes or else Still Life. It is worth noting that Tom Wesselmann’s last solo show in a cultural institution in Europe took place in 2005 at the MACRO, Rome. Another reason if needed to come discover this new project at Villa Paloma!