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Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920)
PROPERTY FROM THE ALLAN STONE COLLECTION
Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920)

Cherries

Details
Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920)
Cherries
signed and dated 'Thiebaud 1982' (lower center)
pastel and chalk on paper
13 ¾ x 17 ¼ in. (34.9 x 43.8 cm.)
Executed in 1982.
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner
Literature
M. Strand, ed., Art of the Real: Nine American Figurative Painters, New York, 1983. p. 190 (illustrated).

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Joanna Szymkowiak
Joanna Szymkowiak

Lot Essay

This close study of a bowl of cherries demonstrates Wayne Thiebaud’s striking command of the still life genre. While the artist was linked with the Pop Art movement early in his career, Cherries displays what critics have more recently identified as Thiebaud’s mastery of modern realism. Indeed, in its quietly vibrant form, this pastel and chalk work recalls paintings by earlier European artists such as Chardin and Cézanne.

The composition’s neutral background, free from distracting environmental elements, focuses attention on the subject at its center. The deep burgundy, spherical forms of the cherries contrast with the soft aquamarine of their container, which casts a bold plate-like blue shadow that appears to shimmer at its edge. Revealing his training as a commercial illustrator, this distinctive shading technique is a signature motif in Thiebaud’s still lifes; it both grounds the image and isolates it, emphasizing the object as an offering that cannot quite be grasped.

Furthering the object’s sense of vitality is the bundled-together nature of the cherries and the impression that the few stalks depicted are attempting to escape the captivity of the bowl. The patches of color that reflect off the glossy fruit heighten this feeling of animation; the cherries are formed not just from black and burgundy, but from blue, white, red, green, and yellow. In this way, Thiebaud (who depicted his still lives from memory, rather than by direct observation) does more than represent a bowl of cherries; the animation of pigment on paper is so vital that it becomes simultaneously a study of mark-making and color.

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