Wayne Thiebaud emerged as a formidable contemporary artist during the early 1960’s, when Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and the other Pop Artists represented the avant-garde. Thiebaud embraced the clarity of this movement and would develop a similar style. Having begun his career as a commercial artist, sign painter and cartoonist, his transition to painting pies, cakes, hot dogs and other simplistic American objects was somewhat natural. Thiebaud’s motivation for depicting these everyday objects, however, was quite different from that of his Pop Art contemporaries.
While Warhol and his followers often employed satire to point out America’s dependence on consumer goods in their art, a humble feeling of nostalgia and gratitude characterizes the works of Thiebaud. He painted the majority of his works from memory only, in an attempt to reflect on family picnics, home cooking and other features of growing up in small town America. His seemingly endless lines of pastries and cafeteria foods simultaneously show our standardization and abundance of food.
In his later prints, Thiebaud moved on to capturing automobiles and roadways, yet with the same geometric preoccupation. His overall compositions gradually became more structured and gridlike, and lost their soft palette in favor of brighter, more distinct colors. While his style may have evolved over his career, Thiebaud’s unwavering favorable portrayal of Americanism continues to be the characteristic that separates him from his peers.
His work can be found in many collections, including: Albright Knox Art Gallery, The Buffalo Academy of Fine Arts, Buffalo, NY; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Fine Art Museum, San Francisco; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Library of Congress, Prints and Photography Division, Washington, DC; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, Washington, DC; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ; Wadsworth Atheneum, Connecticut; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.