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Great American Nude #27 (Wesselmann, Tom), 1962Still Life # 28 (Wesselmann, Tom), 1963TV 1963 (Uecker, GŁnther), 1963
 
 
 

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Parallel concepts—the television set as an art object in the work of Wesselmann, Uecker, César, Isou and Gerstner

Paik and Vostell are not the only artists to be addressing the television set as an art object around 1962–1964. It is surprising that artists who knew nothing about each other were producing work of this kind at the same time, but the difference between the contexts in which these works emerge is also revealing.

Tom Wesselmann

Tom Wesselmann built working TV sets into some of his pop art paintings in 1962–1964. He also uses this juxtaposition of painted interior and real objects like telephones, radiators or radios in several other works, right down to an object box that needs a female breast to complete it. In «Great American Nude #39,» 1962, a painted female nude is lying between a real TV and a window with a real blind. Wesselmann shows television as part of everyday American life, as something that is not watched deliberately but running in the background, and just as much part of the interior as the furniture and the pictures on the wall. Despite the moving images he calls some of these TV

 

paintings still lifes, the best known being the 1963 «Still Life #28.» The picture is crammed with American symbolism, and the portrait of President Lincoln on the wall relates to the topical events on the screen.[32] The picture seems to be saying that this is where politics is played out today: one of the reasons for Kennedy's win in the 1960 presidential election against Nixon was that he made a better impression in the television debate.

Günther Uecker

In the same year, Günther Uecker processed a TV set, «TV 1963,» by covering it with nails—over-nailing—as well as painting it white. The object is part of an exhibition called «Sintflut der Nägel» in which Uecker over-nailed all the furniture in a living room. A TV broadcast by the Hessischer Rundfunk accompanying the exhibition showed Uecker buying the brand-new television set, and then subjecting this valuable object to artistic treatment.[33] Thus television as a consumer fetish becomes an object reminiscent of primitive rituals, of the kind found in African nail fetishes, for example.

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