"I think we have barely touched upon the real capacity of what realistic painting can do"-Wayne Thiebaud, 1968
Standing proudly to attention, the colored bottles in Wayne Thiebaud's 4 Sodas are reminiscent of a by-gone age and, at the same time a thoroughly modern treatment of the chromatic power of color within the painted medium. Modelled on the bottles of Bireley's soda that were a California staple in the 1950s and 1960s, their distinctive shape and brightly colored contents proved an ideal subject for Thiebaud's distinctive style of painting. In addition, Thiebaud uses both oil and gouache to capture the optical effect of light as it illuminates the bottles, casting shadows on the ground highlighting the exaggerated colors of nature's fruit.
Thiebaud's disciplined composition mirrors the iconic still lives of the Italian painter Giorgio Morandi. Like Morandi, Thiebaud understood the visual impact of serial imagery and by isolating the bottles against a simple background he highlights not only their contents, but also the complex silhouettes which he renders in a myriad of colors. His popular snapshots of American life and consumerism meant he has become widely associated with the Pop movement but his work does not merely celebrate the consumerism of American society, it also celebrates the classical still-life, his serene arrangements of non-hierarchical subject matter. Thiebaud's ability to transform an everyday soda bottle into an object of beauty is a testament to his power of observation and extraordinary sense of color and form.