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Wayne Thiebaud

Suckers State I 1968 lithograph on BFK Rives 16 h × 21⅞ w in

Morton Wayne Thiebaud

Born November 15, 1920 – Died December 25, 2021) was an American painter known for his colorful works depicting commonplace objects—pies, lipsticks, paint cans, ice cream cones, pastries, and hot dogs—as well as for his landscapes and figure paintings. Thiebaud is associated with the pop art movement because of his interest in objects of mass culture, although his early works, executed during the fifties and sixties, slightly predate the works of the classic pop artists. Thiebaud used heavy pigment and exaggerated colors to depict his subjects, and the well-defined shadows characteristic of advertisements are almost always included in his work.

Wayne Thiebaud gained fame for his art, featuring objects commonly seen in diners and cafeterias, like pies and pastries. In his youth, he worked at a cafe called Mile High and Red Hot in Long Beach, where "Mile High" referred to ice cream and "Red Hot" meant a hot dog.

He became associated with the Pop art movement due to his fascination with mass culture objects. However, his works, created in the 1950s and 1960s, slightly preceded those of the classic pop artists, hinting at a potential influence on the movement. Thiebaud employed bold pigments and exaggerated colors, incorporating well-defined shadows reminiscent of advertisements into his pieces.

Despite his association with Pop art, Thiebaud disliked being labeled as either "fine art" or "commercial art." He considered himself a traditional painter and disagreed with Andy Warhol's flat and mechanical style.

Beyond pastries, Thiebaud ventured into other subjects, including Mickey Mouse, landscapes, streetscapes, and cityscapes, influenced by Richard Diebenkorn's work. Some of his paintings, like Sunset Streets (1985) and Flatland River (1997), are renowned for their hyper-realism and have been compared to the works of Edward Hopper, another artist captivated by ordinary American scenes.

Wayne Thiebaud's art can be found in the permanent collections of esteemed institutions such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Crocker Art Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Additionally, his works have been featured in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, and the Phoenix Art Museum.

Several notable exhibitions have showcased Thiebaud's work, including a retrospective at the Whitney Museum in 2001, another at Acquavella Galleries in 2012, and a significant retrospective at the Toledo Museum of Art in 2021. Particularly, the Crocker Art Museum has been dedicated to hosting Wayne Thiebaud exhibitions every decade since 1951, including a special exhibition titled "Wayne Thiebaud 100," which celebrated the artist's 100th birthday in 2020.

Wayne Thiebaud

1920 - 2021

Seraphin Gallery, Philadelphia, PA


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