John Wesley was born in Los Angeles, California in 1928. Largely a self-taught artist, Wesley developed the basis of his artistic practice while employed as an illustrator in the Production Engineering Department of Northrop Aircraft in the 1950s. In 1959, he married the artist Jo Baer, and in the following year the couple moved to New York City. Wesley quickly became immersed in the nascent Pop art movement. He received his first one-man show relatively soon after his arrival in New York, at the Robert Elkon Gallery in 1963. This show earned him the respect of his fellow artists and critics alike; Minimalist
sculptor and critic Donald Judd wrote him a particularly favorable review, and became a lifelong supporter of Wesley’s work. Inherently light-hearted, Wesley’s work proved to defy easy categorization into the typical “Pop” definition. His flat, heavily-outlined clear forms, almost colorbook-like, fit into the Pop aesthetic, but his subjects lacked the mass-produced or consumer society references of Warhol or Lichtenstein.
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