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January 31, 2003

Artist Wayne Thiebaud comes home to CSUS


Wayne Thiebaud in Sacramento studio, 1990, photo by Matt Bult.A rare look at more than 40 works representing virtually the entire career of internationally acclaimed artist and CSUS alumnus Wayne Thiebaud will be on display this spring at California State University, Sacramento's new University Library Gallery.

The exhibition, Wayne Thiebaud: Works from 1955 to 2003, opens April 4 during the University's 11th annual Festival of the Arts. It will remain on display through July 25.

Thiebaud is the only individual to have received three successive degrees from CSUS - a bachelor's degree in art in 1951, a master's degree in art in 1953 and an honorary Ph.D. in fine arts in 1998. The recipient of numerous awards and other honors, Thiebaud received the Governor's Award for Lifetime Achievements in the Arts in 1991, and the National Medal of Arts Presidential Award in 1994.

Thiebaud will discuss his work and his career during a talk at noon, April 5, in the Yamshon Alumni Center at CSUS. A reception in his honor will be held from 5-8 p.m., April 4 in the gallery. Both events are open to the public.

As a teenager, Thiebaud showed an interest in cartooning, and in 1936 he worked as a summer apprentice in the animation department of Walt Disney studios. His introduction to the Sacramento region, where he has lived much of his life, was during World War II, when he served in the U.S. Army Air Force and was stationed at Mather Air Force Base. Assigned duties as a commercial artist, he drew a cartoon strip for the base newspaper. From 1946-49, he worked as a designer and artist at Rexall Drug Company in Los Angeles, where he created a comic strip for the company magazine.

Palm Hill Farm & Cloud, c. 1968, oil on canvas, 24x36, private collection, ©Wayne Thiebaud/licensed by VAGA, New York, NYThiebaud began to paint in an expressionist figurative style and exhibited in a group show at the Los Angeles County Museum in 1948, and in 1950 he enrolled as a student at Sacramento State College (now California State University, Sacramento). After receiving his bachelor's degree, he became an instructor at Sacramento Junior College (now Sacramento City College), and taught both art and art history there through 1960. In 1960 he joined the art faculty at the University of California, Davis, where he remained until his retirement in the early 1990s.

His signature style - brightly colored still-life paintings of food and other objects, shown against neutral backgrounds - was established around 1960. In April 1962 he received national recognition with his first one-person exhibition in New York at the Allan Stone Gallery, a commercial and critical success. This was followed in October by his inclusion in New Realists at the Sidney Janis Gallery, the first group exhibition of Pop Art in America.

In 1963 he began a series of paintings of people, shown in stiff formal poses and with little facial expression. In 1966 he embarked on a series of landscapes depicting sites in Northern California, and later, on a series of cityscapes emphasizing the steep hills of San Francisco. During the mid-1990s he focused on brightly colored landscapes depicting the Sacramento River Delta.

Rosebud Cakes, 1991-1995, oil on canvas, 15 7/8x20, private collection, ©Wayne Thiebaud/licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.The 44 works included in the exhibition are all drawn from private collections. Through March 23, the works are at Pepperdine University's Frederick R. Weissman Museum of Art. A catalog of the exhibition has been published by CSUS and Pepperdine, and is available for purchase from the Hornet Bookstore at CSUS ($35). CSUS art historian Elaine O'Brien's essay, "Locating Thiebaud," included in the catalog, focuses on the special place Sacramento holds in the career of this remarkable artist.

More information is available by contacting the University Library Gallery at (916) 278-4189.

Additional media assistance and high resolution scans of Thiebaud paintings are available from CSUS public affairs at (916) 278-6156. A high resolution photo of Thiebaud is available along with the exhibit press release at www.csus.edu/news.


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