The estate of John Wesley, the artist whose Pop-like paintings accrued a loyal following, will now be exclusively represented by Pace, one of the world’s top galleries, with spaces in eight cities.
For 27 years, Wesley had been represented by New York’s Fredericks & Freiser gallery, which will no longer list him on his roster. Still, Pace said the Wesley estate’s new representation would be done “in association” with Fredericks & Freiser.
Pace is now planning to take Wesley’s art to Frieze Los Angeles, which will open next week, almost exactly one year after the artist’s death.
While Wesley may still be lesser-known than the Pop artists to whom he has long been compared, he gained a group of admirers during his lifetime, among them the Minimalist sculptor Donald Judd, whose Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, has put Wesley’s paintings on permanent display.
“I’m part of the John Wesley cult for sure,” Marc Glimcher, Pace CEO, said in a phone conversation.
Wesley’s work was often unclassifiable, drawing on imagery borrowed from mass media without any of the droll irony that the Pop artists enlisted. And while his paintings may recall cartoons or advertising, they sometimes depict sexual activities that would be unlikely to be depicted in either of those.
His work has been the subject of surveys at the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center and the Fondazione Prada.
Glimcher said part of the reason that Wesley’s work isn’t more widely known, both on the market and in institutions, is that people who own his paintings are loath to part with them.
“He’d always been one of the artists whose paintings have this prolonged effect on you,” Glimcher said. “If you live with them or spend time with them, they change you. People who live with Wesleys are attached to them. Prying them away from people is extremely hard.”
Correction, 2/9/23, 11:50 a.m.: A previous version of this article stated that Wesley was formerly represented by Waddington Custot. While that London gallery staged several Wesley shows, he was not on its roster.