Vonn Sumner writes about the work of Wayne Thiebaud on the occasion of the exhibition Wayne Thiebaud: American Memories at the Laguna Art Museum, on view through June 1, 2014.
Sumner observes: “The more traditional and honest Thiebaud tries to be, the more radical his work becomes. In this age of ever-shortening attention spans, he shows us a complex kind of long looking. In his later series of ‘Cities and Landscapes,’ especially, Thiebaud orchestrates a kind of anthology of seeing: glimpses, glances, infinite perceptual observation, and long-held memories, things seen up-close, from far away, from above, from below, frontally presented and from every conceivable kind of point of view and perspective—all within a single painting. Art writer Jed Perl has formulated that the very best artists of the Modern era are simultaneously radicals and traditionalists; Thiebaud fits that description as well as any artist I can think of. His achievement is not that he fit into a particular movement, but that he remained so impossible to categorize. He combines a certain ‘Pop’ sensibility with realism, abstraction, impressionism, cubism, cartooning, sign painting, and too many other influences to list. The result is an idiosyncratic American gumbo of a style uniquely his own.”