John Yau reflects on the work and legacy of painter Wayne Thiebaud on the occasion of the exhibition Wayne Thiebaud: A Retrospective at Acquavella Galleries, New York, on view through November 30, 2012.
Yau writes: "At a point when everybody was squeezing space out of paintings, Thiebaud was putting it back in, while establishing a tension between surface and depth. The reason is that Thiebaud wants the viewer to be aware of his or her own body, and he recognizes that this is something that Pollock lost when he made his groundbreaking paintings. For all their materiality, Pollock’s allover paintings make it difficult for the viewer to orient his or her body to the painting — they take the ground we are standing on away. I suspect this is one reason why Thiebaud has never gained the favor of MoMA. He challenges their narrative, which claims this was the goal of painting."