b. 1928, United States

John Wesley Artworks

John Wesley's acrylic paintings show imaginary nude figures set against grass greens, baby blues, and pastel pinks, often accompanied by the artist's signature white border.

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Pop Art

Wesley's images became well-known in the 1960s for their use of traditional emblems, historical figures, comic book personalities, animals, and sexualised women, drawing from advertising materials such as stock photos and tracing paper.

Maiden, from 11 Pop Artists, Volume I (1965), shows a dark-haired female figure on her knees wearing a Marilyn Monroe-like expression, framed by a black border. Six pairs of hands surround her, reaching towards the figure, halted by the frame.

Just as explicit, the acrylic painting Plague (1967) shows a naked female body on her knees surrounded by a grid of diaper-wearing infants, alluding to the 'disease' of mass procreation—pertinent to the production of both artwork and human life.

Surrealism

While Wesley emerged with the 1960s Pop art movement and is often linked to the Minimalist movement through Donald Judd, the artist's sparse comic strips bear Surrealist influences, evident across his serene but evocative scenes that evade strict classification.

Works like Untitled (Mickey & Minnie) (1983), which features pastel patterns of embryonically attached mouse-eared figures against a blue and green landscape, infuse simple compositions with sexual connotations using detailed shapes.

In Hannah's Rabbit (1986), a two-dimensional rabbit is seen from the profile outlined in black paint with its ears raised. Its single blue eye looks over to viewers with a hint of confrontation, the same shade of the flattened blue and green landscape.

Erotica

Wesley's nude paintings often depict naked women against sparse surroundings. Coach (2001) shows a short-haired figure unclothed in front of a green lawn and an open sky, spread in a posture that is at once explicitly expressive and softly evocative.

Untitled (2005), on the other hand, explicitly apprehends the female nude spread open on a blue surface, where the absence of specific context generates a dream-like state.

Untitled (figure at bar) by John Wesley contemporary artwork painting
John Wesley Untitled (figure at bar), 1974 Acrylic on paper (two parts)
36.8 x 218.4 cm
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Rocky Mountain Gym Teacher by John Wesley contemporary artwork painting
John Wesley Rocky Mountain Gym Teacher, 2002 Acrylic on canvas
160 x 134.6 cm
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Mail Order Blues by John Wesley contemporary artwork painting
John Wesley Mail Order Blues, 1972 Acrylic on canvas
101.6 x 101.6 cm
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Dream by John Wesley contemporary artwork painting
John Wesley Dream, 1972 Acrylic on canvas
99.1 x 129.5 cm
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Annunciation by John Wesley contemporary artwork painting
John Wesley Annunciation, 1967 Acrylic on canvas on wood
110.5 x 34.3 x 16.5 cm
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Eppe by John Wesley contemporary artwork painting
John Wesley Eppe, 1968 Acrylic on canvas
96.5 x 27.9 cm
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Blue Leg by John Wesley contemporary artwork painting
John Wesley Blue Leg, 1997 Acrylic on canvas
62.2 x 149.9 cm
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Coach by John Wesley contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
John Wesley Coach, 2001 Acrylic on paper
67.3 x 58.4 cm
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Hannah's Rabbit by John Wesley contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
John Wesley Hannah's Rabbit, 1986 Acrylic on paper
54.6 x 39.4 cm
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Show Girls by John Wesley contemporary artwork painting
John Wesley Show Girls, 1996 Acrylic on canvas
81.3 x 152.4 cm
Pace Gallery
Debbie Millstein Swallowed a Thumbtack by John Wesley contemporary artwork painting
John Wesley Debbie Millstein Swallowed a Thumbtack, 1972 Acrylic on canvas
119.5 x 147.3 cm
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