Who is Wayne Thiebaud?

Updated: 8/19/2023
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Wayne Thiebaud (born November 15, 1920) is an American painter whose most famous works are of cakes, pastries, boots,toilets, toys and lipsticks. He is associated with the Pop art movement because of his interest in objects of mass culture, although his works, executed during the fifties and sixties, slightly predate the works of the classic pop artists. Thiebaud uses heavy pigment and exaggerated colors to depict his subjects, and the well-defined shadows characteristic of advertisements are almost always included in his work.

Contents[hide] [edit]Life and career

Thiebaud was born to Mormon parents in Mesa, Arizona, U.S.A.. His family moved to Long Beach, California when he was six months old. One summer during his high school years he apprenticed at the Walt Disney Pictures Walt Disney Studio making 'in-betweeners' of Goofy, Pinocchio, and Jimminy Cricket making $14 a week. The next summer he studied at the Frank Wiggins Trade School in Los Angeles. From 1938 to 1949, he worked as a cartoonist and designer in California and New York. He served as an artist in the United States Army Air Force from 1942-45.[1]

In 1949, he enrolled at San Jose State College (now San Jose State University) before transferring to Sacramento State College (now California State University, Sacramento), where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1951 and a master's degree in 1952. He subsequently began teaching at Sacramento City College. In 1960, he became assistant professor at the University of California, Davis, where he remained through the 1970s and influenced numerous art students. Thiebaud did not have much of a following among Conceptual artists because of his adherence to basically traditional disciplines, emphasis on hard work as a supplement to creativity, and love of realism. Occasionally, he gave pro bono lectures at U.C. Davis.

On a leave of absence, he spent time in New York City where he became friends with Willem De Kooning and Franz Kline and was much influenced by these abstractionists as well as proto pop artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. During this time, he began a series of very small paintings based on images of food displayed in windows, and he focused on their basic shapes.

Returning to California, he pursued this subject matter and style, isolating triangles, circles, squares, etc. He also co-founded the Artists Cooperative gallery, now Artists Contemporary Gallery, and other cooperatives including Pond Farm, having been exposed to the concept of cooperatives in New York.

In 1960 he had his first one-man show in San Francisco at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and in New York City at the Staempfli and Tanager galleries. These shows received little notice, but two years later, a 1962 Sidney Janis Gallery exhibition in New York officially launched Pop Art, bringing him national recognition although he disclaimed being anything other than a painter of illusionistic form.

In 1961 Thiebaud met and became friends with Allan Stone (1932-2006),[1]the man who gave him his first "break" decades ago. Stone was Thiebaud's dealer until Stone's death in 2006. Stone said of Thiebaud "I have had the pleasure of friendship with a complex and talented man, a terrific teacher and cook, the best raconteur in the west with a spin serve, and a great painter whose magical touch is exceeded only by his genuine modesty and humility. Thiebaud's dedication to painting and his pursuit of excellence inspire all who are lucky enough to come in contact with him. He is a very special man." The Allan Stone Gallery is currently located in New York City and carries many other pop-artists artwork. Since Stone's death, Thiebaud's son Paul Thiebaud (1960-2010) had taken over as his dealer. Paul Thiebaud was a successful art dealer in his own right and had eponymous galleries in Manhattan and San Francisco. (note: Paul Thiebaud died on the 19th June 2010)

In 1962 Thiebaud's work was included, along with Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jim Dine, Phillip Hefferton, Joe Goode, Edward Ruscha, and Robert Dowd, in the historically important and ground-breaking "New Painting of Common Objects," curated by Walter Hopps at the Pasadena Art Museum [1]. This exhibition is historically considered one of the first Pop Artexhibitions in America. These painters were part of a new movement, in a time of social unrest, which shocked America and the art world and changed art forever.

In 1963 he turned increasingly to figure painting, wooden and rigid with each detail sharply emphasized. In 1964 he made his first prints at Crown Point Press, and has continued to make prints throughout his career. In 1967 his work was shown at the Biennale Internationale.

One of Thiebaud's successful students from Sacramento City College was renowned artist, Fritz Scholder (1937-2005) who went on to become a major influence in the direction of American Indian art through his instruction at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico (1964-1969).

On October 14, 1994, he was presented with the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton.

Wayne Thiebaud has been married twice. With his first wife, Patricia Patterson, he produced two children, one of whom is the model and writer Twinka Thiebaud. With his second wife, Betty Jean Carr, he had a son, Paul LeBaron, who later became an art dealer. He also adopted Betty's son, Matthew.


Thiebaud is well known for his paintings of production line objects found in diners and cafeterias, such as pies and pastries. Many wonder if he spent time working in the food industry, and in fact he did. As a young man in Long Beach, he worked at a cafe named Mile High and Red Hot, where "Mile High" was ice cream and "Red Hot" was a hot dog.[2]

He was associated with the Pop art painters because of his interest in objects of mass culture, however, his works, executed during the fifties and sixties, slightly predate the works of the classic pop artists, suggesting that Thiebaud may have had an influence on the movement. Thiebaud uses heavy pigment and exaggerated colors to depict his subjects, and the well-defined shadows characteristic of advertisements are almost always included in his work.[citation needed]

In addition to pastries, Thiebaud has painted landscapes, streetscapes, and popular characters such as Mickey Mouse. His paintings such as Sunset Streets(1985) and Flatland River(1997) are noted for their hyper realism, and are in some ways similar to Edward Hopper's work, who was fascinated with mundane scenes from everyday American life.[citation needed]

In his painting, he focuses on the commonplace in a way that suggests irony and objective distance from his subjects. He also makes a point of keeping an independent distance from the New York School.[citation needed]

Thiebaud considers himself not an artist, but a painter. He is a voracious reader and is known for reading poetry to his students. His favorite poet is William Carlos Williams.[citation needed]

Thiebaud spoke at Harvard University School of Design in 1990 where he responded to one of the student's questions, "What do you think defines an artist?" and Mr. Thiebaud responded "An artist creates his own world."[citation needed]

Selected works:

  • 1961 Pies, Pies, Pies
  • 1962 Around the Cake
  • 1962 Bakery Counter
  • 1963 Cakes
  • 1963 Girl with Ice Cream Cone
  • 1964 Man Sitting - Back View
  • 1966 Powder With Puff
  • 1967-68 Coloma Ridge
  • 1970 Seven Suckers
  • 1975 Shoe Rows
  • 1977 24th Street Intersection
  • 1981 Hill Street (Day City)
  • 1987 Two Paint Cans
  • 1993 Apartment View
  • 1996 Farm Channel
  • 1999 Reservoir
  • 2002 Jolly Cones
  • 2010 Google - 12th Birthday Cake
  1. ^ a b Thiebaud and Berkson 1994 (unpaginated).
  2. ^ Scheller, William (2008). America, a history in art: the American journey told by painters, sculptors, photographers, and architects. Black Dog Publishing.
  • John Coplans, "New Paintings of Common Objects", Artforum, November, 1962. (Illustrations)
  • Thiebaud, Wayne, and Bill Berkson. 1994. Wayne Thiebaud: figurative works, 1959-1994 : March 22-April 30, 1994. Belmont, CA: Wiegand Gallery, College of Notre Dame in cooperation with the Northern Arizona Art Museum and Galleries.
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He was born in Mesa, Arizona, U.S.A.

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Related questions

Where did Wayne Thiebaud come from?

Wayne Thiebaud come from Califonia.

When was Wayne Thiebaud born?

Wayne Thiebaud was born on November 23, 1920.

What is Wayne thiebaud's full name?

His Father was Morton Guisti (sp?) Thiebaud

What is Wayne Thiebaud's birthday?

Wayne Thiebaud was born on November 23, 1920.

Did betty jean thiebaud and Wayne thiebaud have kids?


Was Wayne Thiebaud married?


What has the author Wayne Thiebaud written?

Wayne Thiebaud is primarily known as a painter and not as an author. He is renowned for his colorful, often whimsical paintings of everyday objects like cakes, pies, and ice cream cones. Thiebaud's work is associated with the Pop Art movement.

How do you get copyright permission for Wayne Thiebaud Cakes?

Wayne Thiebaud is represented by Visual Artists and Galleries Association (link below).

Does Wayne thiebaud have children?

Yes, Wayne Thiebaud has two children, a son named Paul and a daughter named Twinka.

Where did Wayne thiebaud get his ideas from?


How old Wayne thiebaud?

Pop art painter Wayne Thiebaud is 97 years old (birthdate: November 23, 1920).

When was Wayne thiebaud most active with his work?

Wayne Thiebaud was most active in 1066 as he was able to get proper paints and equipment at this time