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Selected Works

Untitled (Six Soda Pops)

Untitled (Six Soda Pop Bottles), c. 1985

Watercolor on paper, 14 x 22 inches (35.6 x 55.9 cm)

Collection Matt and Maria Bult

 

Untitled (Hot Dog), 2019

Untitled (Hot Dog), 2019

Oil on board
11 x 14 inches

Collection Matt and Maria Bult

Beach Ball, 2004

Beach Ball, 2004
Oil on canvas
24 x 36 1/8 inches

Collection Wayne Thiebaud Foundation

Single and Doubledecker, 1998

Single and Doubledecker, 1998

Oil on canvasboard

11 x 14 inches

Collection Wayne Thiebaud Foundation

"I paint people, places, and things, which gives me the option of painting anything. I would like to believe I could paint anything, any day, any time, any way in which I would like to do. That’s my particular approach. It’s not a very good career move according to many of my fellow painters, but for me, that’s the challenge and that’s the charge, that’s the joy and the agony.”

- Wayne Thiebaud, 2021

Installations

Press Release

Acquavella Galleries is pleased to present Wayne Thiebaud: Summer Days, which will be on view from April 26th through June 14th in New York. The exhibition, organized in collaboration with the Wayne Thiebaud Foundation, presents works from multiple decades of the artist’s career and tracks his sustained interest in recurring subject matter, here offering a nostalgic look at American life passing through the heat of summer. In Summer Days the artist’s many paintings play with both present and past, tasking the viewer to relax amongst scenes of warmth, indulgence, and distant serenity. Rendered in candy-colored impasto, the exhibition includes examples of Thiebaud’s paintings of sweets, hot dogs, bathing suits, and whirling beach scenes, among other subjects.

Wayne Thiebaud rose to prominence in the 1960s at the same time as Pop artists Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and James Rosenquist, though he did not feel aligned with the movement. Unlike these contemporaries, many of whom embraced commercial techniques, Thiebaud described himself as a traditional painter of illusionistic forms. He repeatedly tackled familiar, everyday subjects to challenge and explore the formal possibilities of painting. His meticulously crafted surfaces are steeped with art historical references and a subtle longing for a sweeter time.

In Strawberry Cone (1969) the simplicity of the composition highlights Thiebaud’s technical approach to his paintings. Richly painted in pastel shades of pink, the ice cream emerges almost sculpturally against a stark, blank background, its thick layers of paint bulging past the flat plane of the canvas. Dedicated to a tradition of figuration, Thiebaud’s Strawberry Cone demonstrates the artist’s strength in color and masterful use of impasto and brushwork, with the swaths of creamy paint suggesting the ice cream melting in front of the viewer. His painting Jolly Cones (2002) reflects his sustained interest in the role of sweets as a collective experience, imbuing the painting with the same strain of nostalgia that he employed nearly four decades earlier.

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Strawberry Cone, 1969

Oil on paper

19 1/4 x 17 7/8 inches

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Betty Jean, c. 1965

Oil on canvas mounted on panel

22 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches

© 2024 Wayne Thiebaud Foundation / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

Though most famous for his persistent rendering of still lifes, portraiture and landscapes were also central to the artist’s practice over the many decades of his career. His portraits reflect a similar modality as his scenes of food– highly stylized, colorful subjects set against distilled backgrounds. Betty Jean (1965) presents the artist’s wife sporting a striped swimsuit in profile, extending her focus past the edge of the frame. Rendering the face with a playful veracity, Thiebaud subverts the image subtly by changing the perspective of the torso to a three-quarters position, flattening the swimsuit’s stripes against the contours of the body. The brightly patterned swimsuit creates a moment of technical interest and abstraction that hints at a body in motion, ready to dip into summer’s waters.

This same subversion of perspective also defines the artist’s landscapes, blending points of view to create dreamy realities of the beach bending against water and heat. Tidelines (2004–2014) pushes the artist’s strength in landscapes to its limits, casting his beachgoers into oscillating passages of color. In the foreground, the beachgoers buzz with detail and motion, inducing a feeling of summer ease and nostalgia. As the painting recedes, however, the rendering of the beach distorts and twirls. In lucid hues of yellow, purple, and blue, Thiebaud disrupts the atmospheric perspective with a quickening flatness, rejecting the vanishing point for an absorbing color field thick with movement and animated brushwork. Echoing lapping waves and the long hours of summer days, Tidelines welcomes the viewer into a hypnotizing scene reminiscent of calm, playful vacations in thick heat.

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Tidelines, 2004-2014

Oil on canvas

60 x 48 inches

© 2024 Wayne Thiebaud Foundation / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

Wayne Thiebaud: Summer Days tracks the career of the artist over six decades, revealing his retained interest in lighthearted subjects while casting them in traditional modes of painting. This exhibition celebrates the artist’s regard for the delights of the quintessentially American summer experience, from its sweet ice creams and chilled soda pops to beach games and barbecues, melting a grey winter into a fading memory. In his paintings, an American nostalgia gently invites the viewer into the season’s space, readying them for warmer days ahead.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with essays by curator and art historian Steven Nash and art historian Mary Okin.

About Acquavella Galleries

For over 100 years, Acquavella Galleries has dealt in paintings, sculptures, and works on paper of unparalleled quality. Renowned for its expertise in the fields of 19th, 20th, and 21st century art, the gallery has sold important paintings and sculpture to private collectors and museums world-wide and regularly presents museum-quality exhibitions of Impressionist, modern, postwar, and contemporary masters. Founded by Nicholas Acquavella in the early 1920s, the gallery is now a third-generation, family-owned business, run by Bill, Eleanor, Nicholas, and Alexander Acquavella: Bill joined his father Nicholas in 1960, Bill’s daughter Eleanor joined in 1997, and his sons Nicholas and Alexander joined in 2000 and 2003 respectively.

Today, the gallery exhibits and deals in works by artists such as Francis Bacon, Jean Michel-Basquiat, Pierre Bonnard, Alexander Calder, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Willem de Kooning, Lucian Freud, Alberto Giacometti, Jasper Johns, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Wayne Thiebaud, and Andy Warhol, among the other giants of the late 19th, 20th, and early 21st century. On the primary market, the gallery represents contemporary artists Miquel Barceló, Wang Yan Cheng, Jacob El Hanani, Damian Loeb, and Tom Sachs.

 

All works of art by Wayne Thiebaud are © 2024 Wayne Thiebaud Foundation / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

This Tempting Wayne Thiebaud Watercolor is the Perfect Summer Treat
This Tempting Wayne Thiebaud Watercolor is the Perfect Summer Treat
1st Dibs Obsession of the Week by Ted Loos June 2, 2024

Although he also produced pensive portraits and idyllic landscapes, the artist’s best-known images are of ice cream, cakes and other colorful sweets.

BARRON'S PENTA
BARRON'S PENTA
Wayne Thiebaud's Sunny, Sumptuous Paintings on View at Acquavella April 26, 2024

The late painter Wayne Thiebaud's sun-splashed perspective on life's simpler, happier moments is filling Acquavella Galleries in New York through mid-June.