Wayne Thiebaud Review
WayneThiebaud is a painter and printmaker from the Pop Art era who takes objectsand ideas from popular culture, along with other known artists like Andy Warhol, and inverts them in hisown way. Though Wayne Thiebaud andother Pop artists like Warhol were contemporaries, their work draws verydifferent visual experiences of often similar inspirations. While Warhol sought to flatten objects withuniformity and a methodical detachment from his work, Thiebaud uses thickimpasto in his paintings as well as different layers in his printing to createa feeling of depth and personal touch.
One piece that illustrates this point isThiebaud’s Dark Cake from 1983. Though many have believed otherwise,this work is actually a woodcut printed with water-based inks rather thantraditional oil-based. This givesthe cake the appearance of a moist exterior, almost dripping down to theplate. The cake’s layering ofcolor and use of color to frame the shadows and edges helps create a strongthree-dimensionality and a painterly feel. In contrast, works by Warhol are often screen-printed usingflat plains of color layered in flattening way. Warhol and his followers sought to take away the humanelement and create a detachment between themselves and their works. His workshop was even named “TheFactory.”
Anotherwork that highlights this difference is in how the two artists dealt with theiconic character of Mickey Mouse in their works. While Thiebaud painted Mickey Mouse’s head onto one of hissignature cakes with a thick impasto, Warhol made prints of Mickey Mouse with acool detachment. Thiebaud’s use ofthe Mickey character is not surprising since he had worked previously withDisney in production, but his painting depicts Mickey in a more personalizedway, traditional to the character. Warhol rendered Mickey in a flatter way, using blacks and greys to createa colder, unfeeling character. Though he often said his work did not have meaning, the piece can beread as showing the coldness of the fame “industry” and how the characteritself does not hold any physical substance, it is only an image on the surfaceof the canvas.
This exhibition will continue at the University Art Museum until 5/29/16