May 21, 2017


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Lot 283: Wayne Thiebaud

Lot 283: Wayne Thiebaud


Color screenprint on paper
#3 of 25
Signed and dated in graphite lower right margin of sheet with Artist's Coalition Group blindstamp; title and edition inscribed lower left margin of sheet
Image: 19.5" x 29.125"; Sheet (vis.): 21.5" x 31"; Frame: 32" x 41.75"
Provenance: Fred Maxwell, San Francisco, California; Private Collection, San Francisco, California (acquired directly from the above, c. 1980); Thence by descent
Estimate: $15,000 - $20,000
Inventory Id: 25282

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Celebrated American artist Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920) is best known for his pastel–hued paintings of confections and popular novelties, from cakes and ice cream sundaes to lipsticks and shoes. With its similarities to commercial art and depiction of everyday subject matter, Thiebaud’s work has long been associated with the Pop Art movement. However, the heavily impastoed surfaces of his paintings bear closer similarities to the techniques of European Masters such as Giorgio Morandi and Paul Cézanne, rather than Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein or any of his contemporaries.

Born in Mesa, Arizona, Thiebaud and his family relocated to California when he was six–months old. As a teenager he apprenticed at the Walt Disney Studios in Los Angeles, between 1936—1937, and thereafter set out to become an illustrator, working as a cartoonist in Long Beach. After World War II, he studied at San Jose State College and California State College, Sacramento, where he graduated with an MFA. He began experimenting with painting and discovered his distinctive style in 1961, while teaching in the Art Department at the University of California, Davis.

Seclusion (1959) is a rare and distinguished color screenprint that contains the visual seed for Thiebaud’s future work. The artist continued to produce landscapes of places familiar to him throughout his career, from San Francisco cityscapes to views of Sacramento. The air of sentimentality embodied in the image anticipates the nostalgia of the artist’s most celebrated paintings. Thiebaud spent some of his formative years at Thorley Ranch in Utah; a private, secluded retreat, brimmed with sweeps of trees. The little glowing dots of yellow that emerge between the tree trunks in. Seclusion also foreshadow the halo effect that he employed in later works. Meticulously rendered, this landscape confirms Thiebaud’s standing within the classical tradition of painting.

Hess, Thomas B. “Wayne Thiebaud: Eternal Mayonnaise.” New York Magazine. 8 Aug. 1977: 56-57. Print. Marter, Joan M. The Grove Encyclopedia of American Art. New York: Oxford UP, 2011. 33. Print.