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Wayne Thiebaud
Heart Ridge

2011

Price Upon Request

About

The images in Wayne Thiebaud's drypoints fill the space around them, carving into it. They are images of mountains. In one, only the mountaintop shows and a gigantic cloud is in the process of expanding into the entire sky. In another there seem to be forest fires; smoke plumes drift from behind a towering rock that rises from a ridge lined with minuscule trees, rooftops, maybe farms. Two images are of precipitous mountainsides, tiny trees holding their own. And one is a whole mountain, solidly angular against a cloud encircling its peak. "There's nothing really that I've ever found in other lines that is like an etched line--its fidelity, the richness of it, the density you just don't get that any other way." Wayne Thiebaud has long been recognized as one of America’s most prominent modern artists. Probably best known for his straightforward, deadpan still-life paintings of the 1960s, and traditionally linked with Pop Art, Thiebaud is identified by his brilliant palette, luscious handling of paint, and the intensity of light that lends a particularly ‘California’ flavor to his images. Derived from a dialogue between realism and abstrac- tion, seriousness and wit, sensuous pleasure and rigor- ous form, Thiebaud’s art immerses viewers in the magic by which paint transforms itself into the things being described and back again. In addition to his well-known paintings of pies and cakes, contents of delicatessen counters, and oth- er consumer goods, Thiebaud has also painted figure stud- ies, cityscapes with vertiginous plunges that restructure space and perspective, and dramatically abstracted landscapes.

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About the Artist

Wayne Thiebaud

Wayne Thiebaud’s pastel-hued still-life paintings and prints of baked goods, gumball machines, hot dogs and paint cans are often associated with the Pop art movement, thanks to the mass-cultural appeal of their content. Stylistically, however, Thiebaud eschewed the precision found in the art of such Pop giants as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol in favor of a more painterly approach, not unlike that of the Italian modernist Giorgio Morandi, whose dreamy paintings of vessels and household objects are simple yet richly atmospheric.

Thiebaud was born in Mesa, Arizona, in 1920 and grew up in Southern California from the age of six months. As a high schooler, he had a summer apprenticeship at Walt Disney Studios, which led to a stint as a graphic artist in the U.S. Army Air Forces’ First Motion Picture Unit during World War II. After the war, he attended the California State College at Sacramento on the G.I. Bill, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1951 and earning a master’s soon after. He went on to teach at the University of California, Davis, from 1960 to ’91.

In the late ’50s, time spent living in New York City proved crucial to Thiebaud’s career. There, he befriended Abstract Expressionist painters Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline and drew inspiration from the work of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. Admiring the color and form on display in New York’s many bakeries, he began painting small canvases featuring rows of treats, which would become one of his central subjects. Though Thiebaud himself doesn’t identify as a Pop artist, the first major exhibition that brought him national renown was a seminal 1962 Pop show at the Sidney Janis Gallery in Manhattan. That same year, he was included in "New Painting of Common Objects” at the Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena, which also featured paintings by Ed Ruscha and Jim Dine. Iconic works such as Pie Counter (1963) demonstrate Thiebaud’s signature treatment of commonplace items with the grandeur and scale of a landscape.

Thiebaud’s interest in exaggerated colors and vernacular subject matter — characteristics that call to mind images found in mid-century advertising — made him an intriguing figure occupying the hazy borderlands between fine and commercial art. Yet through a masterful handling of paint, evocative use of light and poignant sense of isolation, Thiebaud’s work is unquestionably thoughtful and singular. His later forays into landscape painting, as seen in Steep Street (1989) or Country City (1988), bring to bear his bold use of color on complex urban scenes.

Pieces by Thiebaud can be found in the collections of major museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, among many others. In 1994, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton.

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About the Seller
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Located in Laguna Beach, CA
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