Tom Wesselmann (1931-2004) forged his distinctive, figurative fusion of color and line through a longtime engagement with Matisse. Wesselmann first learned about the French master while studying at Cooper Union (1956–59), where his teacher Nicholas Marsicano encouraged him “to find your own way. . . You can’t do what Matisse did.” Wesselmann’s goal to bypass De Kooning and find his own direction was satisfied by his adaptations of the controlled, precise contours; bold, flat colors; and sensual imagery popularized by Matisse.
— Gail Stavitsky, author and Chief Curator, Montclair Art Museum