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 Wayne Thiebaud  (1920 - )

/ TEE-boe/
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Lived/Active: California/Arizona      Known for: modernist still life, portrait, landscape painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Morton "Wayne" Thiebaud was born to Morton "Justi" Thiebaud and Alice Eugena "Jean" LeBarron Thiebaud in Mesa, Arizona, U.S.A.. Morton Justi Thiebaud, "Wayne Thiebaud's father", was born in Indiana to Rodolph Lamson Thiebaud and Rebecca Spake Thiebaud. Rodolph Thiebaud was the 8th son of Justi Thiebaud, an early pioneer in Switzerland County,Indiana from the country of Switzerland. (See Justi Thiebaud's restored home by the Switzerland County Historical Society on the internet or in person) Morton Justi Thiebaud was raised a Baptist but convert to the Mormon religion on 2 April, 1927. Alice Jean LeBarron Thiebaud was born and raised a Mormon.

Wayne Thiebaud's family moved to Long Beach, California when he was six months old. Rodolph Thiebaud, Wayne's Grandfather, also moved from Arizona to Los Angeles California. During the Depression Morton Justi and Alice Thiebaud with family moved to Utah to try farming about 1929. Morton Justi Thiebaud returned with his family to Long Beach, California in 1933 when he found work cleaning up after the earthquake of 1933. In 1935, Wayne Theibaud attended Long Beach Poly Tech High School. He began drawing and Cartooning. One summer during his high school years he apprenticed at the Walt Disney Pictures Walt Disney Studio making 'in-betweeners' of Goofy, Pinocchio, and Jiminy Cricket making $14 a week. The next summer he studied at the Frank Wiggins Trade School in Los Angeles. From 1938 to 1949, he worked as a cartoonist and designer in California and New York. He served as an artist in the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces from 1942-45.

In 1949, he enrolled at San Jose State College (now San Jose State University) before transferring to Sacramento State College (now California State University, Sacramento), where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1951 and a master's degree in 1952. He subsequently began teaching at Sacramento City College. In 1960, he became assistant professor at the University of California, Davis, where he remained through the 1970s and influenced numerous art students. Thiebaud did not have much of a following among Conceptual artists because of his adherence to basically traditional disciplines, emphasis on hard work as a supplement to creativity, and love of realism. Occasionally, he gave pro bonolectures at U.C. Davis.

On a leave of absence, he spent time in New York City where he became friends with Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline and was much influenced by these abstractionists as well as proto pop artist artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. During this time, he began a series of very small paintings based on images of food displayed in windows, and he focused on their basic shapes.

Returning to California, he pursued this subject matter and style, isolating triangles, circles, squares, etc. He also co-founded the Artists Cooperative gallery, now Artists Contemporary Gallery, and other cooperatives including Pond Farm, having been exposed to the concept of cooperatives in New York.

In 1960 he had his first one-man show in San Francisco at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and in New York City at the Staempfli and Tanager galleries. These shows received little notice, but two years later, a 1962 Sidney Janis Gallery exhibition in New York officially launched Pop Art, bringing him national recognition although he disclaimed being anything other than a painter of illusionistic form.

In 1961 Thiebaud met and became friends with Allan Stone (1932–2006), the man who gave him his first "break" decades ago. Stone was Thiebaud's dealer until Stone's death in 2006. Stone said of Thiebaud "I have had the pleasure of friendship with a complex and talented man, a terrific teacher and cook, the best raconteur in the west with a spin serve, and a great painter whose magical touch is exceeded only by his genuine modesty and humility. Thiebaud's dedication to painting and his pursuit of excellence inspire all who are lucky enough to come in contact with him. He is a very special man." The Allan Stone Gallery is currently located in New York City and carries many other pop-artists artwork. Since Stone's death, Thiebaud's son Paul Thiebaud (1960–2010) had taken over as his dealer. Paul Thiebaud was a successful art dealer in his own right and had eponymous galleries in Manhattan and San Francisco. (note: Paul Thiebaud died on the 19th June 2010)

In 1962 Thiebaud's work was included, along with Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jim Dine Phillip Hefferton, Joe Goode, Edward Ruscha, and Robert Dowd, in the historically important and ground-breaking "New Painting of Common Objects," curated by Walter Hopps at the Pasadena Art Museum . This exhibition is historically considered one of the first Pop Art exhibitions in America. These painters were part of a new movement, in a time of social unrest, which shocked America and the art world and changed art forever.

In 1963 he turned increasingly to figure painting, wooden and rigid with each detail sharply emphasized. In 1964 he made his first prints at Crown Point Press, and has continued to make prints throughout his career. In 1967 his work was shown at the Biennale Internationale.

One of Thiebaud's successful students from Sacramento City College was renowned artist, Fritz Scholder (1937–2005), who went on to become a major influence in the direction of American Indian art through his instruction at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico (1964–1969). Another successful student is Mel Ramos, famous painter of art nudes and retired professor of art at California State University, East Bay, who considers Thiebaud to be his mentor.

On October 14, 1994, he was presented with the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton.

Wayne Thiebaud has been married twice. With his first wife, Patricia Patterson, he produced two children, one of whom is the model and writer Twinka Thiebaud. With his second wife, Betty Jean Carr, he had a son, Paul LeBaron Thiebaud, who later became an art dealer. He also adopted Betty's son, Matthew.
 

Submitted by Barbara Smith


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A painter of pop-art realism combined with a great respect for traditional methods and subject matter, Wayne Thiebaud is one of the most prominent of the Bay Area painters in California in the latter part of the 20th century. His reputation spread far beyond his own state.

In his painting, he focuses on the commonplace in a way that suggests irony and objective distance from his subjects. He also makes a point of keeping an independent distance from the New York art scene.

He was born in Mesa, Arizona, in 1920, and for one summer during his high school years he apprenticed at the Walt Disney Studio and then studied at an Los Angeles trade school the next summer. He earned a degree from Sacramento State College in 1941. From 1938 to 1949, he worked as a cartoonist and designer in California and New York and served as an artist in the United States Army.

In 1950, at the age of thirty, he enrolled in Sacramento State where he earned a Master's Degree in 1952 and began teaching at Sacramento City College. In 1960, he became assistant professor at the University of California, Davis, where he remained through the 1970s and influenced numerous artist students. However, he did not have much following among Conceptualists because of his adherence to basically traditional disciplines, emphasis on hard work rather than creativity, and love of realism.

On a leave of absence, he spent time in New York City where he became friends with Willem De Kooning and Franz Kline and was much influenced by these abstractionists as well as Pop Artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. During this time, he began a series of very small paintings based on images of food displayed in windows, and he focused on their basic shapes.

Returning to California, he pursued this subject matter and style, isolating triangles, circles, squares, etc. He also co-founded the Artists Cooperative gallery, now Artists Contemporary Gallery, and other cooperatives including Pond Farm, having been exposed to the concept of cooperatives in New York.

Wayne Thiebaud had his first solo show in April 1962 in  New York City at the Allan Stone Gallery. His first solo museum show was mounted in San Francisco at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in July 1962, and that same year in October, he was included in the group show, New Realists, at Sidney Janis Gallery, New York.
 
In 1963, he turned increasingly to figure painting, wooden and rigid with each detail sharply emphasized; in 1967 his work was shown at the Biennale Internationale, and in 1985, he was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

From June to September 3, 2001, The California Palace of the Legion of Honor held a special 80th birthday commemorative exhibition titled: Wayne Thiebaud: A Paintings Retrospective.

Sources:
Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Art
Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
Tsujuimoto, Karen. Wayne Thiebaud. San Franciso Museum of Modern Art. Exhibition Catalogue 1985.

Biography from RoGallery.com:
Wayne Thiebaud (born Mesa, Arizona, November 23, 1920) is an American painter whose most famous works are of cakes, pastries, boots, toilets, toys and lipsticks. His last name is pronounced "Tee-bo." He is associated with the Pop art movement because of his interest in objects of mass culture, however, his works, executed during the fifties and sixties, slightly predate the works of the classic pop artists. He has also been seen, due to his true to life representations, as a predecessor to photorealism.

Thiebaud uses 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 is one of the most prominent of the Bay Area Figurative Movement in California in the latter part of the 20th century.

Thiebaud was born to Mormon parents in Mesa, Arizona, U.S.A.. His family moved to Long Beach, California when he was six months old. One summer during his high school years he apprenticed at the Walt Disney Studio.  The next summer he studied at a Los Angeles trade school. He earned a degree from Sacramento State College in 1941. From 1938 to 1949, he worked as a cartoonist and designer in California and New York and served as an artist in the United States Navy.

In 1950, at the age of thirty, he enrolled in Sacramento State where he earned a Master's Degree in 1952 and began teaching at Sacramento City College. In 1960, he became assistant professor at the University of California, Davis, where he remained through the 1970s and influenced numerous artist students. However, he did not have much following among Conceptualists because of his adherence to basically traditional disciplines, emphasis on hard work as a supplement to creativity, and love of realism.

On a leave of absence, he spent time in New York City where he became friends with Willem De Kooning and Franz Kline and was much influenced by these abstractionists as well as proto pop artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. During this time, he began a series of very small paintings based on images of food displayed in windows, and he focused on their basic shapes.

Returning to California, he pursued this subject matter and style, isolating triangles, circles, squares, etc. He also co-founded the Artists Cooperative gallery, now Artists Contemporary Gallery, and other cooperatives including Pond Farm, having been exposed to the concept of cooperatives in New York.

In 1960, he had his first one-man show in San Francisco at the Museum of Art and in New York City at the Staempfli and Tanager galleries. These shows received little notice, but two years later, a 1962 Sidney Janis Gallery exhibition in New York officially launched Pop Art, bringing him national recognition although he disclaimed being anything other than a painter of illusionistic form.

In 1961 Thiebaud met and became friends with Allan Stone (1932-2006), the man who gave him his first "break" decades ago. Stone was Thiebaud's dealer until his (Stone's) death in 2006. Stone said of Thiebaud "I have had the pleasure of friendship with a complex and talented man, a terrific teacher and cook, the best raconteur in the west with a spin serve, and a great painter whose magical touch is exceeded only by his genuine modesty and humility. Thiebaud's dedication to painting and his pursuit of excellence inspire all who are lucky enough to come in contact with him. He is a very special man."  The Allan Stone Gallery is currently located in New York City and carries many other pop-artists artwork.  Since Stone's death, Thiebaud's son Paul has taken over as his dealer. Paul Thiebaud has been a successful art dealer in his own right and has eponymous galleries in Manhattan and San Francisco.

In 1962 Thiebauds's work was included, along with Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jim Dine, Phillip Hefferton, Joe Goode, Edward Ruscha, and Robert Dowd, in the historically important and ground-breaking "New Painting of Common Objects," curated by Walter Hopps at the Pasadena Art Museum. This exhibition is historically considered one of the first Pop Art exhibitions in America. These painters were part of a new movement, in a time of social unrest, which shocked America and the art world and changed art forever.

In 1963, he turned increasingly to figure painting, wooden and rigid with each detail sharply emphasized; in 1967 his work was shown at the Biennale Internationale.

One of Thiebaud's successful students from Sacramento City College was renowned artist, Fritz Scholder (1937-2005) who went on to become a major influence in the direction of Indian art through his instruction at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico (1964-1969).

Thiebaud is best known for his paintings of production line objects found in diners and cafeterias, such as pies and pastries. Many wonder if he spent time working in the food industry, and in fact he did. 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 was associated with the Pop art painters because of his interest in objects of mass culture, however, his works, executed during the fifties and sixties, slightly predate the works of the classic pop artists, suggesting that Thiebaud may have had an influence on the movement. Thiebaud uses heavy pigment and exaggerated colors to depict his subjects, and the well-defined shadows characteristic of advertisements are almost always included in his work.

In addition to pastries, Thiebaud has painted landscapes, streetscapes, and popular characters such as Mickey Mouse. His recent paintings such as Sunset Streets (1985) and Flatland River (1997) are noted for their hyper realism, and are in some ways similar to Edward Hopper's work, who was fascinated with mundane scenes from everyday American life.

In his painting, he focuses on the commonplace in a way that suggests irony and objective distance from his subjects. He also makes a point of keeping an independent distance from the New York School.

Thiebaud considers himself not an artist, but a painter. He is a voracious reader and is known for reading poetry to his students. His favorite poet is William Carlos Williams.

Selected works:

* 1961 Pies, Pies, Pies
* 1962 Around the Cake
* 1962 Bakery Counter
* 1963 Cakes
* 1963 Girl with Ice Cream Cone
* 1964 Man Sitting - Back View
* 1967-68 Coloma Ridge
* 1977 24th Street Intersection
* 1981 Hill Street (Day City)
* 1993 Apartment View
* 1996 Farm Channel
* 1999 Reservoir

Biography from Denis Bloch Fine Art:
Wayne Thiebaud was born November 15, 1920 in Mesa, Arizona.  His family moved to Long Beach, CA when he was six months old.  During high school, Thiebaud apprenticed for a summer at the Walt Disney Studio and then continued his artistic education at Los Angeles trade school.  He earned a degree from Sacramento State College in 1941 and worked as a cartoonist, designer and served as an artist in the United States Army Air Force.

In 1950, at the age of thirty, he enrolled in Sacramento State where he earned a Master's Degree in 1952 and began teaching at Sacramento City College. In 1960, he became assistant professor at the University of California, Davis, where he remained through the 1970s and influenced numerous students.  However, he did not have much following among Conceptualists because of his adherence to basically traditional disciplines, emphasis on hard work as a supplement to creativity, and love of realism.

On a leave of absence, he spent time in New York City where he became friends with Willem De Kooning and Franz Kline and was influenced by these abstractionists as well as proto pop artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. During this time, he began a series of very small paintings based on images of food displayed in windows where he focused on their basic geometric shapes.

In 1960 he had his first one-man shows in San Francisco and in New York City. These shows received little notice, but two years later, a 1962 Sidney Janis Gallery exhibition in New York officially launched Pop Art, bringing Thiebaud national recognition although he disclaimed being anything other than a painter of illusionistic form.

In 1962 Thiebaud's work was included, along with Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jim Dine, Edward Ruscha, and others, in the ground-breaking "New Painting of Common Objects," curated by Walter Hopps at the Pasadena Art Museum.  This exhibition is historically important as one of the first Pop Art exhibitions in America.

He was associated with the Pop Art painters because of his interest in objects of mass culture, however, his works, executed during the 1950s-1960s, slightly predate the works of the classic pop artists, suggesting that Thiebaud may have had an influence on the movement. Thiebaud uses heavy pigment and exaggerated colors to depict his subjects, and the well-defined shadows characteristic of advertisements are almost always included in his work.

In addition to food and consumer goods, Thiebaud has painted landscapes, streetscapes, and popular characters such as Mickey Mouse.  His works are noted for their hyper realism, and are in some ways similar to Edward Hopper's work, who was fascinated with mundane scenes from everyday American life. In 1964 he made his first prints at Crown Point Press, and has continued to make prints throughout his career. In 1967 his work was shown at the Venice Biennale Internationale.

QUOTE:
“Heroes are really important in our society, but really the things that matter most are family and home, whether it's your daily cup of coffee or a warm bathrobe—the simple pleasures are really important in life. Wouldn't it be great to have a society where you didn't need heroes?”

Select Museum Collections:
Hirschhorn Museum, Washington, DC
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Tate Gallery, London

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.


Wayne Thiebaud is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
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