He was born in Cincinnati / Ohio on 23 February 1931. From 1945 to 1951 he studied at the Hiram College in Ohio before studying psychology at Cincinnati university.
He began to draw cartoons when doing his military service due to the Korea war as he was discontented with his situation.
In 1954 he attended the art academy. Two years later, he moved to New York and attends Cooper Union School for Arts and Architecture. He earned his living by working as a cartoonist for newspapers and magazines, and by teaching at a highschool in Brooklyn.
At the end of the fifties he created a serie of collages in small format, that have been then considered as precursors of the later series "Great American Nudes" and "Still life" in big format. Out of these collages he developed first nude depictions in 1960.
His first single exhibition took place at the Tanager Gallery in New York in 1961. One year later he participated in the group exhibition "New Realists" at the Sidney Janis Gallery, and this is how his international career with numerous exhibitions started off.
The same year his first assemblages with the title "Still Life" came into existence.
In 1964 Tom Wesselmann began with further series such as"Bedroom Paintings", "Seascapes" and "Smokers", which he continued until the early 1980s.
In 1983 first "Metal Works" were produced, which were based on the artist's drawings and sketches and which are still in the centre of the artist's interest.
Tom Wesselmann died in New York on 17 December 2004. His choice of trivial motifs, and the use of bright colors made him a co-founder of the American Pop-Art during the 1960s.