Wayne Thiebaud - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Monday, November 11, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist
    Faggionato Fine Arts, London
    Private Collection, Italy

  • Exhibited

    London, Faggionato Fine Arts, Wayne Thiebaud, October 8, 2009 – January 22, 2010, then traveled to New York, Paul Thiebaud Gallery (April 20 - June 26, 2010)

  • Literature

    Wayne Thiebaud, exh. cat., Faggionato Fine Arts, London, 2009, p. 37 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    "I was fascinated...by the way that different streets came in and out and then just vanished. So I sat out on a street corner and began to paint them." - Wayne Thiebaud, 2000

    Renowned for his whimsical depictions of confectionaries, gumball machines, and in the case of the present lot, twisting and turning pastel colored highways, Wayne Thiebaud captures the reality of contemporary America in a deliciously appealing palette. Sharing the wry sensibility of his Pop contemporaries, Thiebaud’s work investigates the very making of popular culture. Landscapes and images of city life were a natural progression from the vernacular language of mass-produced iconography. And while landscape painting is one of the most historic of painterly traditions, the present lot, Traffic Lanes, 1982, captures the San Francisco landscape as only Wayne Thiebaud can.

    Eight lanes of traffic diagonally divide the composition, framed by two thick bands of black paint and a clear blue skyline delineating the horizon along the upper edge of the sheet. Vehicles appear to plunge down the surface, a cascade of miniature machines over a cement waterfall. Each vehicle casts a small shadow over the concrete as it accelerates towards the lower edge of the composition. Cleverly using the flat surface of the page and the vertical nature of its presentation, the artist triumphantly emphasizes the character of his beloved city to astonishing degrees. While shifting away from serial repetition of Pop imagery, Thiebaud’s urban landscape results in a studied exploration of the juxtaposition between city life and nature—a celebration of the built environment and the very conventions of landscape painting.

    In Traffic Lanes, 1982, Thiebaud creates a scene that merges reality with fantasy, a dialogue between observation and inventiveness that was the basis for his entire oeuvre. (Wayne Thiebaud in R. Wollheim, Wayne Thiebaud: Cityscapes, San Francisco, 1993, n.p.) In this way, the landscape paintings, like his cakes and gumball machines, serve as formal investigations rendered in glowing hues of bright yellows, light blues, purples and vivid reds grounded by delineations of black and grayscale. Traffic Lanes, 1982, both whimsical and topical in nature, is as much an exercise in precision and draftsmanship as it is a luminous and poetic study of color and light.


Traffic Lanes

watercolor, pastel, pencil and black ink on paper
29 1/2 x 22 in. (74.9 x 55.9 cm.)
Signed and dated "Thiebaud 1982" lower right.

$400,000 - 600,000 

Contact Specialist
Zach Miner
Head of Evening Sale
+1 212 940 1256

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York 11 November 2013 7PM