Wayne Thiebaud - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, May 15, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Paul Thiebaud Gallery, San Francisco
    Private Collection

  • Exhibited

    San Francisco, Campbell-Thiebaud Gallery, Wayne Thiebaud: Cityscapes, November 9 - December 18, 1993

  • Literature

    Campbell-Thiebaud Gallery, ed., Wayne Thiebaud: Cityscapes, San Francisco, 1993, n.p. (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Close staring has a tendency to expand what you are looking at.”

    Cat and Traffic, 1993, captures the unique San Francisco landscape as only Wayne Thiebaud can. Renowned for his whimsical compositions of cakes, ice cream cones and bubblegum machines, Thiebaud captures the reality of contemporary America in deliciously appealing candy colors. Starting in the 1960s, Thiebaud produced a series of paintings of consumer goods found in storefront windows, examples of the new American middle-class lifestyle. Much like his contemporaries—Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Ruscha—Thiebaud’s work both investigates and expresses genuine curiosity in popular culture, a relatively new phenomenon in the early post-war years. Landscapes and images of city life were a natural progression from this language of mass-produced Pop iconography, creating another brand of visual social commentary. In the present lot, Thiebaud focuses on the basic shapes of urban scenery – the high arch of the interstate in the distance, the long shadow of the high-rise building, and the corner of the apartment balcony overlooking it all. Thiebaud’s shift away from the serial repetition of his Pop imagery results in a studied exploration of the juxtaposition between city life and nature– a celebration of the built environment. Thiebaud’s artistic talents lie in his ability to guide the viewer’s eye through tightly composed images, his brushstrokes carefully constructing the scene as if a storyteller narrating a dialogue within the pictorial space.

    Fascinated with the concept of stare, Thiebaud’s process involved numerous preliminary sketches drawn in situ and from memory– a technique inspired by his hero Edward Hopper. Thiebaud created scenes merging reality with fantasy; he said of his landscapes: “These drawings seemed to offer more the kind of visual and physical feeling that was closer to the idea of San Francisco. So, when I returned to painting again, the city itself looked more like the composite drawings I had been making. And the dialogue between what was there and what was made up become the basis of the entire series.” (Wayne Thiebaud in R. Wollheim, Wayne Thiebaud: Cityscapes, San Francisco, 1993, n.p.)


Cat and Traffic

acrylic on canvas
15 3/4 x 20 in. (40 x 50.8 cm.)
Signed and dated "Thiebaud 1993" upper left; further signed and dated "Thiebaud 1993" on the reverse.

$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for $893,000

Contact Specialist
Zach Miner
Head of Sale
[email protected]
+1 212 940 1256

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York 16 May 2013 7pm