At age 84 Wayne Thiebaud is considered by many art critics to be one of the
top American painters. Even though his works are primarily known in California,
his artwork is now gaining fame throughout America. He has a way of painting
still-life's of food, beverages, and other subjects with vibrant colors that
gives them a unique quality that most other artists struggle to achieve.
Wayne Thiebaud (Morton Wayne Thiebaud) was born on November 15, 1920 in Mesa, Arizona. In 1921 his family decided to move to California. Wayne lived in
several cities while growing up. From 1935 to 1938 Wayne lived in Long Beach,
where he attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School. At this school
he excelled at many extra-curricular activities such as theatre, sports, music, and art class,
this is where
he learned how to draw cartoons. In the summer of 1936 he received an
apprenticeship at the Walt Disney studios animation department.
He would serve as commercial artist for the base newspaper in the United States Air Force during World War II, while he was stationed at the Mather Air
Force Base located in Sacramento. When World War II ended, he moved back to Los Angeles, where he found work as an artist for the Rexall Pharmaceutical Company,
drawing the cartoon for the company's monthly magazine.
In 1948, Wayne started painting in an expressionist style; his first
exhibition was held at the Los Angeles County Museum during that same year.
Wayne enrolled at Sacramento State College in 1950. In 1951 Wayne would
receive a Bachelor of Arts degree, and attained his Master of Arts in 1953.
During the time he was enrolled at Sacramento State College, he was an art
an art history instructor at Sacramento Junior College.
From 1956 to 1957, Wayne would take a leave of absence from teaching at the
junior college. He moved to New York, where he would meet the some of the
painters of the New York School of Arts such as, Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline.
He received a position as the assistant professor of the art department at
the University of California, Davis. During 1960, Wayne held positions such as;
associate professor, and professor, until he retired at the age of 70.
In 1961 Wayne created his own unique style of using brilliantly colored
still-life paintings that included food and beverages, painted against neutral
His first solo exhibit held at the Allan Stone Gallery, in New
York in 1962, would receive national recognition. In October of that same year, Wayne's
paintings became part of the New Realists display at the Sidney Janis Gallery;
this was to be the group’s first exhibition of Pop Art in America.
From 1963 to 1966, Wayne had a series of paintings in which the people that he
painted were in very formal and expressionless poses, he would also paint a
series of landscapes, of the northern California region that were simply
Wayne would buy a second home in 1973, located in San Francisco. There he
started to focus on unconventional cityscapes that emphasized the very steep
hills surrounding the area in which he lived.
During the 1990s, Wayne set out to paint a series of vividly colored
landscapes scenes, of the Sacramento River Delta area.
Wayne has received many accolades and accomplishments throughout his long
career such as:
Wayne would get ideas for his paintings from many different places, from the
landscapes surrounding where he lived as an adult, to the stores he would visit
as a child. It appears all of these had some sort of influence on his works.
Wayne Thiebaud has many of his paintings on display at many museums
throughout the United States, such as:
- National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
- Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
- Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California
- Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Missouri
- Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, New York
- National Academy of Design, New York City
- Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, Lincoln, Nebraska
Wayne is also the subject of several books focusing on his painting style and
Wayne Thiebaud - A Paintings Retrospective. 1st ed. : Thames &
Tsujimoto , Karen.
Wayne Thiebaud. 1st ed. : Univ of Washington Publishers, 1985.