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Wayne Thiebaud: Works from 1955 to 2003

 

To mark the tenth anniversary of the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University, the museum will present a survey exhibition of the art of Wayne Thiebaud entitled Wayne Thiebaud: Works from 1955 to 2003. The exhibition will be on view from January 11 through March 23, 2003.

After a long career which has spanned more than half a century, Thiebaud (pronounced TEE-bow) is considered today to be one of California's most respected and admired artists.

He developed a national reputation in the 1960s with his bold Pop Art paintings of food. These colorful renderings transform such familiar items as pies, cakes and lollipcps into memorable iconic images. His witty and joyous style has found an audience that has grown with each passing decade. (right: Wayne Thiebaud, Rosebud Cakes, 1991-95, oil on canvas, 15-7/8 x 20 inches. © Wayne Thiebaud/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY)

Although his vision is distinctly contemporary, the artist views himself as continuing a long heritage of representational art. "I see myself as a traditional painter," he explains. "I am very much interested in the concept of realism and the notion of inquiry into what the tradition of realism is all about." His art brings realism into the modern era, transforming ordinary objects with electric colors and engaging compositions. In his hands, the traditional techniques of Old Master painting are given new life and shown to be relevant to our fast-paced modern world.

Thiebaud's thoughtful images possess a dignity that transcends their familiar origins. His art offers an open-minded and egalitarian view of American life. His signature "California" style, which features bright color, intense light and rich paint handling, affirms one of the oldest and most basic of American ideals -- the "pursuit of happiness."

This exhibition includes 45 works in all mediums, covering his entire career from 1955 to the present, all drawn from private collections. It features examples of the food paintings that made him famous, as well as other still lifes, cityscapes, landscapes, and studies of the figure. His dynamic views of San Francisco interpret the city's sharply rising and descending streets as fiercely exaggerated planes of color. More serene are his recent depictions of the Sacramento River Valley, which show the region to be an Eden-like paradise, filled with lush vegetation and gently meandering waterways.

Wayne Thiebaud: Works from 1955 to 2003 is an especially appropriate way to mark the tenth anniversary of the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, which first opened to the public with an exhibition of Thiebaud's art. Although a large retrospective of the artist's work toured the nation in 2000-2001, it did not come to Los Angeles. This exhibition will allow the people of Southern California a rare opportunity to see his work in depth.

Thiebaud was born in Mesa, Arizona, in 1920. He studied at Sacramento State College and the California School of Arts and Crafts. In 1960 he was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Art at the University of California, Davis. He held subsequent positions there as associate professor (1963-67) and professor (1967 until his retirement at age 70), and currently is a professor emeritus.

His art has been shown in scores of museum exhibitions throughout the country. In addition, he has received numerous honors, including the Governor's Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts in 1991, the National Medal for Arts Presidential Award in 1994, and an honorary doctor of fine arts degree from California State University, Sacramento, in 1998.

This exhibition is organized in conjunction with the University Library Gallery at California State University, Sacramento, where it will be displayed from April 4 to July 25, 2003. A 72-page catalog is available, featuring color reproductions of all works in the exhibition and informative essays on Thiebaud's art written by Michael Zakian, director of the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, and by Elaine O'Brien, professor of modern and contemporary art at California State University, Sacramento.

 

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