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

Jawbreaker Machine

WAYNE THIEBAUD (1920 - 2021)
Jawbreaker Machine
signed and dated '? Thiebaud 1990' (lower right); signed again, inscribed, numbered and dated again 'A.P. Pastel Hand worked artist proof of non-editioned print Thiebaud '97 (lower edge)
extensively hand-worked pastel over linocut on paper
image: 21 1⁄2 x 16 in. (54.6 x 40.6 cm.)
sheet: 30 3⁄8 x 22 1⁄2 in. (30.3 x 22.5 cm.)
Executed in 1990⁄1997. This work is a unique hand-colored artist's proof aside from an edition of fifty.
Campbell-Thiebaud Gallery, San Francisco
Allan Stone Gallery, New York
Private collection, Jackson, Mississippi
Anon. sale; Christie's, New York, 11 November 2015, lot 230
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

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Lot Essay

In Jawbreaker Machine, Wayne Thiebaud takes an ordinary, everyday object and turns its on its head, transforming it into something both quotidian and communal as well as something deeply personal. The gesture moves beyond the Pop Art sensibility of commenting on consumer culture and the ubiquity of mass production. Instead, this iconic work transforms a commonplace object into a site of nostalgia and beauty, while remaining refreshingly uncomplicated and digestile. Jawbreaker Machine is reminiscent of Barnett Newman's exclamation in 1963, when asked about Thiebaud's work: "All those globes of colored beauty, and for a penny, out comes something sweet and wonderful!" (Barnett Newman quoted in Wayne Thiebaud; A Paintings Retrospective, exh. cat., Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, 2000, p. 20). By employing colored pastels, Thiebaud blends the concrete and the abstract, showcasing his mastery across differenent mediums.

Saturating the paper with juicy layers of color in warm and cool tones, juxtaposed to create a glowing bouquet of color and contour, the result is a mouth-watering orchestration of round forms that demands quiet reflection, yet simultaneously asks to be plucked up and consumed.Thiebaud's iconic studies of common American foodstuffs draw upon both the traditional and the contemporary. While working in the tradition of still-life painting, Thiebaud meditates on the beauty of form and color in the vein of his Abstract Expressionist contemporaries but uses the subject matter associated with Pop Art of mass production and consumption. While small in scale, Jawbreaker Machine elevates the readily-available, democratic object to a state of artistic aristocracy by isolating it; a Duchampian gesture. By depicting the familiar image of the candy machine, Thiebaud takes the genre of still life off its pedestal and allows the viewer to revel in the simple pleasure of seeing, to appreciate the shapes for their beauty, and to be thrilled by their effervescent color, iconizing the banal.

Instead of relying on an overtly sensational image of something special or strange in order to create emotion, Thiebaud prefers the use of a familiar object, creating an enchanting sense of nostalgia as one recalls the inexpensive pleasure of a being a kid in a candy store with a penny in their pocket. In Jawbreaker Machine, Thiebaud does away with the brush in exchange for brightly colored pastels, revealing the immediacy yet control of his touch. A formal exploration of color, structure, and texture, Jawbreaker Machine is a playfully complex, iconic work that perfectly encapsulates how Wayne Thiebaud has so deftly captured the American psyche.

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