John Wesley: A Collection

Text by Terry R. Myers

John Wesley: A Collection is published on the occasion of the exhibition of the same name at Zwirner & Wirth in New York in 2006. The exhibition presented a uniquely focused selection of works from the 1960s to the 1980s by the influential American painter John Wesley. this group of work comes from one of the largest private collection of paintings by the artist.

Using a distinctive comic book style, Wesley has made consistent use of a limited color palette and a carefully refined, stylized graphic vocabulary. The artist implements a deliberately flat spatial quality in his canvases; about his work, he has stated, “My paintings are as flat as I can make them. They’re not supposed to look like paintings. They’re supposed to look more like banners, or posters, or something.” Though often associated with the pop artists of his generation, Wesley’s canvases complicate their co-optation of commercial iconography by presenting narrative scenes that address the realm of the imagination and the strangeness of everyday life. By combining traditional emblems, historical figures, nudes, comic book characters, and animals, Wesley presents a broad range of references in canvases that take up the theme of the human psyche.  His paintings distinctively meld together elements of pop, minimalism, and surrealism, which may explain why artists ranging from Donald Judd to several of today’s contemporary painters have been profoundly attracted to his work.

This fully-illustrated catalogue is accompanied by a text by Los Angeles-based art critic Terry R. Myers.


Publisher: Zwirner & Wirth

Artists: John Wesley

Contributors: Terry R. Myers

Publication Date: 2006

Binding: Softcover

Dimensions: 8 1/4 x 10 1/2 in (20.3 x 26.7 cm)

Pages: 56

Reproductions: 23 color

ISBN: 9780977356833

Retail: $25 US & Canada | £16 | €20

Status: Available

John Wesley

Since the late 1950s, John Wesley has exhibited widely in the United States and Europe. His first solo exhibition was at Robert Elkon Gallery, New York in 1963, and his work has been shown at such institutions as the Chinati Foundation, Marfa; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Whitney Museum Of American Art; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Royal Academy of Arts, London; and the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid. Wesley’s work has been included in Documenta 5, Kassel (1972) and was the subject of major retrospectives at Portikus, Frankfurt; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1993); the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge; and PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY (2000). Wesley was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1976, a National Endowment for the Arts Grant in 1989, and, most recently, was the 2005 recipient of the Skowhegan Medal for Artistic Achievement in Painting.