Wayne Thiebaud paintings - Betty Jean Thiebaud and Book
Wayne Thiebaud, "Betty Jean Thiebaud and Book," 1965–1969, Oil on canvas, 36 x 30 in., Crocker Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Thiebaud, 1969

“Wayne Thiebaud 100: Paintings, Prints, and Drawings,” an extensive, celebratory retrospective featuring the full range of the Sacramento artist’s achievements on canvas and on paper is on view at the Crocker Art Museum through January 3, 2021.

Opening shortly before Thiebaud’s 100th birthday, the career-spanning exhibition of 100 objects made over more than 70 years (1947-2019), is the largest survey of Wayne Thiebaud’s work in in two decades. Works drawn from the Crocker’s holdings and the collection of the Thiebaud Family and Foundation, many of which have never been shown publicly, as well as the artist’s newest body of work, circus clowns, reveal an extraordinary, expansive practice.

Wayne Thiebaud, “Street and Shadow,” 1982–1983 (1996), Oil on linen, 35 3/4 x 23 3/4 in. Crocker Art Museum, gift of the Artist’s family, 1996.3. © 2019 Wayne Thiebaud / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.

Accompanied by a full-color, richly illustrated publication with fresh scholarship by Crocker Art Museum’s Associate Director & Chief Curator Scott A. Shields and others asserts that Thiebaud’s body of work is singular and visionary, informed by memory, tradition, and imagination.

“Wayne Thiebaud is a national treasure, Sacramento is his hometown, and we are delighted to celebrate his 100th birthday with an exhibition that honors the vitality, vibrancy, and wit of his art and civically engaged life,” says Lial A. Jones, the Museum’s Mort and Marcy Friedman Director & CEO. “’Wayne Thiebaud 100′ continues a Crocker tradition of organizing an exhibition of the artist’s work in every decade since 1951, when the Crocker accorded him his first solo museum show. We will recognize his achievements through an important publication alongside virtual exhibition tours and programs, fresh and archival interviews with the curator and the artist himself, plus fun and engaging digital activities for all ages.”

Wayne Thiebaud paintings - Boston Cremes
Wayne Thiebaud, “Boston Cremes,” 1962, Oil on canvas, 14 x 18 in. Crocker Art Museum Purchase, 1964.22. © 2019 Wayne Thiebaud / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.

“Wayne Thiebaud has a reverence for painting and tradition. His art is deeply felt,” says Shields. “His canvases are some of the most important paintings ever made in California, and they possess an enduring interest, combining nostalgia and optimism, loneliness and isolation.”

Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920) was raised in California and is today one of America’s greatest and most admired living artists. Appreciated for creating “a world of longing — a serene abundance that is always a windowpane away,” as Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker has stated, Thiebaud is a recipient of the National Medal of Arts (1994) and the Gold Medal for Painting from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2017).

He made his reputation in the early 1960s with still lifes of comforting, ubiquitous foods, the type served at snack counters, cafeterias, and middle-class diners, such as pies and cakes, ice cream cones, lollipops, and other delectables painted with thick impasto, which at the same time evokes simpler times and places.

By the mid-1960s, Thiebaud turned to the figure and then landscape and, in the 1970s, gained new recognition for his dramatic, vertiginous interpretations of the San Francisco cityscape. Many of these same qualities are exemplified in the artist’s sweeping, bird’s-eye portrayals of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta scenes, a group of paintings he started in the mid-1990s.

Wayne Thiebaud paintings - Watermelon and Knife
Wayne Thiebaud, “Watermelon and Knife,” 1989, Pastel on paper, 8 5/8 x 9 1/2 in. Crocker Art Museum, gift of the Artist’s family, 1995.9.30. © 2019 Wayne Thiebaud / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.

To learn more about “Wayne Thiebaud 100: Paintings, Prints, and Drawings,” please visit crockerart.org.

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