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Wayne Thiebaud

(b. 1920)


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(1920– ).

Painter and printmaker. His bright, lusciously painted 1960s consumer items, particularly edible ones, resonated with pop art. He often used repetition and uniformity to lampoon, but only gently, the mass-produced perfection of standardized favorites, especially rich desserts. By minimizing depth in regular arrays across his canvases, he called to mind cafeteria or shop window displays. Since the 1970s he has particularly focused on landscapes and urban streetscapes, abstracted into patterns and sensuously rendered in rich colors. In many, the stark illumination of the food paintings gives way to evocative light effects. Born in Mesa, Arizona, Wayne Morton Thiebaud grew up in Southern California. After graduating from high school in Long Beach, he worked for more than a decade as a cartoonist and graphic designer, except for the period between 1942 and 1945, when he served in the U.S. Army Air Force. He subsequently studied at San Jose State University and Sacramento State College (now California State University, Sacramento), where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees. Before completing his studies, in 1951 he began teaching at a Sacramento junior college, where he remained through the decade while painting works related to abstract expressionism. Since 1960 he has taught at the University of California at Davis. In the 1970s he established a residence in San Francisco as well. Also in 1960 he began to make his reputation with opulent paeans to the American appetite. Within a few years, he painted figural works in a similarly poker-faced style but by the late 1960s had begun to grapple with outdoor views. Many of these picture hilly San Francisco, often in vertiginous perspectives, or the flat agricultural terrain around Davis. Some represent other areas of the West or borrow from imagination and memory. As a printmaker, he has worked in both intaglio and relief techniques.

Subjects: Art.


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