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Wayne Thiebaud : paintings /

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Famous for his dreamy 1960s paintings of cakes, Wayne Thiebaud began his career as a commercial artist and cartoon illustrator like many other artists of the period, including Andy Warhol. And like Warhol, Thiebaud became tied to pop art since he was making images of popular American products like food, lipsticks, and toys. Yet unlike many of his pop peers, Bay Area-based Thiebaud wasn't interested in poking fun at the establishment. He's a painter's painter, a real traditionalist. Wayne Thiebaud: A Paintings Retrospective covers a career of rendering still lifes, cityscapes, landscapes, and the figure. His cake paintings are formally beautiful in their color, shadow, and composition. They are perfect specimens of the good life in America, the paint lovingly applied in places like thick frosting. His cityscapes of San Francisco fiercely exaggerate the hilly landscape, capturing a perspective from the ground and air simultaneously while utilizing the light that the Bay Area is famous for. Thoughtful essays by Steven A. Nash, associate director and chief curator for the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, and Adam Gopnik, a writer for The New Yorker, discuss Thiebaud in relation to his peers, pop, modernism, and abstract expressionism. This book serves as a catalog for Thiebaud's major retrospective, which opened in San Francisco and travels to Forth Worth, Texas, Washington, D.C., and ends in New York in the fall of 2001. Besides their beauty, these works truly capture a period of American life in a way that feels free of irony but not without commentary about nature, the city, and how we've lived. --J.P. Cohen

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