Wayne Thiebaud: Mormon Artist
Wayne Thiebaud is an American painter and art professor known for his landscapes and cityscapes, but most especially for his interest and depiction of commonplace objects and objects of mass culture.
Thiebaud (pronounced Tee-bo) was born on November 15, 1920, in Mesa, Arizona, but his family (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) moved to Long Beach, California, when he was six months old. He was an apprentice at the Walt Disney Studio during one of his high school summers. He also lived on a ranch near St. George, Utah, from 1929 to 1933. From 1938 to 1949, he worked as a cartoonist and designer in California and New York and served as an artist in the First Motion Picture Unit of the U.S. Navy. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Sacramento State College in 1941, and his master’s degree in 1952. He then taught art at Sacramento State College. In 1960, he became assistant professor at the University of California, Davis, where he remained through the 1970s.
He is best known for his iconic still life paintings of conventional American products and has a trademark bright palette. He painted consumer objects long before Andy Warhol and his work predates the Pop art movement, although he is often classified within the movement. He became famous with his tactile surfaces. He also painted the cityscapes of San Francisco and the landscapes of Sacramento. He incorporated and reworked aspects of master painters.
His work is in permanent collections at Los Angeles Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Crocker Art Museum, the Phoenix Art Museum, and others. In 1994, U.S. president Bill Clinton presented him with the National Medal of Arts. In 2001, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Art from the American Academy of Design.
Thiebaud was married twice and is the father of four children including one adopted son.