The Paul Thiebaud Gallery in New York is pleased to present an exhibition of charcoal still life drawings by Wayne Thiebaud (American, b. 1920). The group of twelve drawings represents a focused body of early work originating from academic lessons assigned to the artist’s students that Thiebaud undertook himself.
Most of the drawings are being shown for the first time in this tour; they were not studies for future works of art. The exercises were rigorous challenges resulting in the employment of a spare number of objects, “various and sundry things,” rendered without a true setting. Within stark, blank backgrounds, the only interruptions to the objects’ existence are their magnified shadows, as dominant as the forms from which they are created. Through the skillful use of charcoal—laid down as a line or burnished into forms reflecting softly and luminously—proves Thiebaud a master technician with any medium.
These quotidian items—a coffeepot, television set, book of matches—attest to Thiebaud’s observational skills modulated by the use of caricature. The objects are used to define space; the spatial relationships between the forms are exaggerated, unorthodox, and unrealistic with the combination of differing perspectival vantage points. The sharply tilting planes upon which the objects are oriented are a hallmark of Thiebaud’s compositions.
Thiebaud serves as Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Davis, where he began teaching in 1960. He continues to live and work in Sacramento, CA. Amongst the numerous prestigious honors and awards received throughout his lengthy career, he received the National Medal of Arts in 1994, conferred by President Bill Clinton.