Thursday, July 17, 2014
Wayne Thiebaud's Rollicking Ride with Icing on Top
I have been enamored of Wayne Thiebaud’s work since I first saw it. His often electrifying colors, even used as shadows, show a masterful knowledge of color at its most evocative and seductive. He slathers on the brushwork like icing a cake, and admit it, don’t all of us have a hankering for some ‘sugary thang’ after seeing one of his cake and pie images? Admit it. Yes, you do. The man has made a lifelong pursuit of American subjects: diner food, and observations of landscape/cityscape, but he has always worked from life. He shows them off with such a finely orchestrated composition, you can't help wanting to devour one of his tasty morsels, or ride one of his extreme roller coaster California streetscapes.
Wayne Thiebaud, b.1920- is an American artist known for his luscious, brightly-painted still-lifes of production line objects found in diners and cafeterias, such as pies and pastries. As a young man in Long Beach, he worked at a cafe named Mile High and Red Hot, where "Mile High" was ice cream and "Red Hot" was a hot dog. He also chose to paint landscapes and cityscapes of northern California and San Francisco.
Thiebaud taught art at Sacramento Junior College (now Sacramento City College) from 1951 - 1960, and from 1960 -1990 he taught art at the University of California, Davis. He was active in theatre design work, created public murals and sculptures, and in 1954 he established a company to produce educational art films.
While on sabbatical, he lived for a year in New York City in 1956–57, became friends with Elaine and Willem de Kooning, and came under the influence of the Abstract Expressionists, the Bay Area figurative movement, and predate proto-pop artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. By the ’50s his work employed the thick, gestural brushstroke for everyday subjects: pinball machines, bakery counters, cosmetics—rendering them in bright colors and strong light. He also co-founded the Artists Cooperative gallery, now Artists Contemporary Gallery, and other cooperatives including Pond Farm, having been exposed to cooperatives in New York.
1962 - Sidney Janis Gallery, New York
1984 - Special recognition award, National Association of Schools of Art and Design
1985 - American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, NY
1986 - Associate of National Academy of Design, NY
1988 - Honorary Doctorate Award, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA
1988 - Fellow to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Boston, MA
1994 - National Medal of Arts, from President William Jefferson Clinton
1996 - The Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award from the National Arts Club, NY
1996 - Award of Excellence from the National Park Service
2001 - Lifetime Achievement Award for Art from the American Academy of Design, NY
Museum of Modern Art, NY, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA, and the Art Institute of Chicago, IL
Clearly, these prints demonstrate a love of line, and entice us with what we see and what is left unseen. Our thirst for his images is unquenched, our cravings for more unsatisfied; for we can Never get enough of Thiebaud's keyed up color, his delicately simple enticements of rows and rows of candy and all things sugary. but I especially enjoy his challenge to reinvent the hillsides of California into the scariest and best ever thrill-seeker rides of our lives. Anything on those streets on wheels is in for one rollicking ride, my friends.