Wayne Thiebaud

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Wayne Thiebaud is a prime example of how an artist was initially ridiculed at but later on made everyone bite their tongue after making the world truly see what his paintings were made of. Many art experts consider him to be a strong member of the Pop Art movement in America; initially Theibaud’s paintings of cakes, pies and ice-creams were laughed at and mocked. It was only when an art gallery finally took a risk and showcased his work that the world witnessed for the first time what a truly marvelous artist Theibaud was. He is considered as Northern California’s greatest artist, famous for turning the simple concept of food into a driving force of art. It is is difficult to comprehend that his paintings were made fun of, for they went on to define the next half of the century and made him a beloved figure in the American art scene.

Wayne Thiebaud was born in 1920 in Mesa, Arizona and now resides in Sacramento, California. Thiebaud’s connection with colorful food can be due to his early job at the Walt Disney studio. It introduced him to the world of art and he started studying it at university. Thiebaud’s work is closely associated to mass culture which was ripe in America during those times. Apart from food items he worked on painting lipsticks, cans, walls, and then later on expanded to working on wood cuts, etching, lithography and graphic media. Thiebaud’s work Cakes shows a simple painting of three rows of cakes set on a table. Cakes can now be found at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. Strange enough Thiebaud didn’t consider himself to be a part of the Pop Art movement; he considered his art to be a reflection of the Californian way of life. Everything from the sun, light, air to the bright colors associated with the life style of that state. There was a strange appeal to his paintings, one a viewer even to this day cannot describe exactly. And it is this appeal which made his work timeless. Thiebaud concentrated a lot on simple tasks adorning the process of painting like the brushstrokes, colors, light, composition and shape. He wasn’t interested in making history; he just wanted to paint something he enjoyed. As with any other versatile artist, Thiebaud also worked on landscapes and portraits but those too in his own unique way. The strong Californian element was still there, it was what made the painting a Thiebaud work.

Thiebaud’s 24th Street Intersection is a wonderful painting of a street in California. The painting shows a cross intersection during daylight complete with lamp-posts, street lights, flats and cars. What is different about the painting is the way Thiebaud has managed to give it water-fall like drop on the right side of the painting. With Thiebaud’s work was a strong sense of an urban atmosphere, which is unmistakable in this painting. Rather than the cool and ironic characteristics associated with other artists of the Pop Art movement, in Thiebaud there was a gentle manner and a warm comic touch to his art. Thiebaud is indeed a living national treasure; in 1994 President Clinton awarded him with the National Medal of Arts. Wayne Thiebaud was also inducted into the California Hall of Fame and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from American Academy of Design.

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