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Wayne Thiebaud: Seventy Years of Painting at the San Jose Museum of Art
Wayne Thiebaud, "Watermelon Slices," 1961 (detail). Oil on canvas. Private Collection. ©Wayne Thiebaud/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.
SAN JOSE, CA.- The San Jose Museum of Art presents "Wayne Thiebaud: 70 Years of Painting," a survey of more than one hundred twenty works drawn from the oeuvre of the celebrated painter. Thiebaud is best known for his vibrantly colored paintings of bakeries and delicatessens and has also specialized in Northern California landscapes, San Francisco cityscapes, and colorful beach scenes. A variety of these paintings will be on display along with prominent drawings and rarely seen figurative works spanning his career.

One of America’s great living artists, Thiebaud’s distinctive vision embraces different subjects and stylistic variations but is always characterized by his blending of realism and abstraction. His work has been categorized as Pop Art, California Pop, and California Realism amongst others, but his singular style cannot be restricted to any one category. With his penchant for dazzling sunlight and high-keyed color, and a gift for painterly, sensuous handling of oils and other media, his paintings link high art with popular culture. They combine the dramatic and witty, the formal and intimate; all the while retaining the sunny optimism that makes his work quintessentially Californian. The inclusion of his graceful drawings reveals that he had a talent for drafting in addition to his keen eye for color.

Born in Arizona and raised in Long Beach, Wayne Thiebaud took up drawing as a young child and eventually apprenticed in the animation department of Walt Disney Studios. He subsequently worked odd jobs as a sign painter, cartoonist, and illustrator after high school. From 1942-45 Thiebaud served in the U.S. Army Air Force in Special Services where he created a newspaper cartoon strip and worked on murals, photography, and map projects. He received his B.A. and M.A. from to California State College in Sacramento.

In 1960 he began teaching at the University of California, Davis, where he has remained on the faculty ever since (as Professor Emeritus since 1990). In the summer of 2009, his work was part of the group exhibition "You See: The Early Years of the UC Davis Studio Art Faculty at the Pasadena Museum of California Art" which explored the remarkable period when he, Roy de Forest, Manuel Neri, William T. Wiley and Robert Arneson all taught at the school. In 1962 his works were exhibited in the groundbreaking exhibition New Painting of Common Objects, curated by Walter Hopps at the Pasadena Art Museum, now the Norton Simon Museum. One of the first Pop Art exhibitions in America, the exhibition also included Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, Roy Lichtenstein and Jim Dine. His work continued to be included in exhibitions and two large-scale retrospectives of his work that traveled nationally were organized in 1985 and 2000. The PMCA is thrilled to welcome Wayne Thiebaud back to Pasadena and to reflect on his exhilarating career.

"Wayne Thiebaud: 70 Years of Painting" is curated by Dr. Steven Nash, Executive Director of the Palm Springs Museum of Art.

The San Jose Museum of Art | Wayne Thiebaud | Dr. Steven Nash |


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