Linked to the Pop art movement, yet hesitant about being categorized as such, American artist Tom Wesselmann emerged in the 1960s with large-scale paintings characterized by bold, flat colors, drawing inspiration from American culture and the media landscape.

The Smoker series, launched in 1967, marked a pivotal turn in Wesselmann's career with the debut of shaped canvases, a feature that would become central to his subsequent creations. By the mid-1970s, he evolved these compositions to include a hand, adding to the previously solitary motifs of lips and a cigarette.
In "Smoker #22," an oil on shaped canvas from 1975, smoke curls around vivid pink lips and perfectly polished red nails, conjuring the allure and sophistication of classic Hollywood cinema. This piece not only reflects the elegance of that era but also stands as a nuanced allusion, on par with the acclaim of his renowned Great American Nude series.

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