WAYNE THIEBAUD (1920-2021)
WAYNE THIEBAUD (1920-2021)
WAYNE THIEBAUD (1920-2021)
WAYNE THIEBAUD (1920-2021)
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WAYNE THIEBAUD (1920-2021)

Bridge City

Details
WAYNE THIEBAUD (1920-2021)
Bridge City
signed and dated ‘Thiebaud ‘57’ (lower right); signed again ‘Thiebaud’ (on the reverse); titled '"BRIDGE CITY"' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
17 7⁄8 x 30 in. (45.4 x 76.2 cm.)
Painted in 1957.
Provenance
Private collection, Sacramento, acquired directly from the artist
Private collection, Sacramento, by descent from the above, circa 2010
By descent from the above to the present owner

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Julian Ehrlich
Julian Ehrlich Specialist, Head of Sale, Post-War to Present

Lot Essay

"What’s intriguing about a series...is to see how many different seasons you can use, how many different times of day, how many different sources of light."
—Wayne Thiebaud

A precursor to Wayne Thiebaud’s much celebrated California cityscapes, Bridge City bears witness to the artist reconciling and challenging the influence of Abstract Expressionism in New York City in the development of his singular, ineffable style. With a lifelong interest in the juxtaposition of color and form in painting the everyday, Thiebaud brought an unexpected and invigorating palette to his work, energizing quotidian scenes through his painterly mastery of halation.

Akin to Claude Monet's iconic Haystacks, Thiebaud's constant revisitting of his natural, en plein air subjects endowed his canvases with a luminosity only available to the eyes that have seen a sight in all its seasons. Together with a small suite of eponymous screenprints, Bridge City pays homage to Thiebaud's brief time in New York before he returned to teaching on the West Coast, where he would live and paint for the rest of his life. Between 1956 and 1957, Thiebaud recalled gathering at the Cedar Tavern with the likes of Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning, the latter who warned against falling into the "signs of art": "I had a wonderful conversation with Willem de Kooning—what he actually said to me was, 'Well, you look like a pretty good painter,...[but] you're trying to make what you think is art, the signs of art... What you want to find is something that you know something about that you like or that you fall in love with or something that really means something to you that you've experienced.' And those were very cautionary words to me" (W. Thiebaud, quoted in "Wayne Thiebaud: Draftsman," The Morgan Library & Museum, 16 May 2018). Thus elevated from overly-expressive mark-making or gestural intent, Thiebaud's work from Bridge City onwards is oriented toward the places, people and pastries near and dear to the artist's heart, with the present work firmly ensconced within a demarcation line of when the artist first began to speak in his unmistakable, much beloved creative voice.

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