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Wayne Thiebaud Pop Art

Department Specialist


Anne Henry
Vice President | Senior Specialist

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Published: 11 September 2017

Artist Spotlight: Wayne Thiebaud

On September 18, Freeman’s will present at auction works from the Patricia & John Roche Collection, including a group of six works on paper by Pop Art icon Wayne Thiebaud.

Wayne Thiebaud

Two examples, ‘Bow Ties’ and ‘Dark Cake’, are prints from published editions. Executed in lithography, ‘Bow Ties’ is a quintessential Thiebaud composition, comprised of rows of brightly patterned subjects. The medium showcases Thiebaud’s skill as a draftsman, and presents his delight in color and repetition, a style and subject that echoes fellow Pop artist, Andy Warhol.

According to the publisher's documentation sheet for ‘Dark Cake’, this print was one of four projects that Crown Point Press produced in Japan with the idea of giving Western trained artists the opportunity to work with Eastern traditional master craftsmen. Thiebaud worked with master printer, Tadashi Toda. Employing an age-old method, the artist produced a drawing translated into wood by craftsmen. The artist and printer then worked together to refine and finish the work. Printed on handmade Japanese paper, 'Dark Cake' was executed in this manner with 28 woodblocks layering over 18 watercolor inks to produce the rich, yet delicate and luminous image. 

“Thiebaud’s insistently cheerful and bright images of treats and delights have timeless appeal,” Vice President and Senior Specialist of Modern & Contemporary Art at Freeman’s, Anne Henry said. “They depict iconic American consumables in multiple, utilize bright colors evoke idealized memories of the past. The artist is a highly skilled painter, draftsman and printmaker whose images are beautifully rendered and show certain mastery across all media.”

Wayne Thiebaud Pop Art

In his forward to a 2013 exhibition featuring his hand-colored prints, Thiebaud wrote, “When is a work finished? And how does that differ from work that feels complete?” Four additional works from the Roche collection are examples of the artist’s quest to answer these questions.

Three of the four are unique works executed in watercolor, gouache and other media over existing printed matrice, each representing the artist’s exploration of an image after and beyond a ‘finished’ print. In ‘Pet Bird’, an etching of a songbird momentarily poised on a perch, the background has been richly colored, focusing our attention on the bird itself. Extensive watercolor additions bring to life the interplay of light and sky upon a sunny hillside in ‘California Ridge’.

Wayne Thiebaud Pop Art

And finally, what may well be the jewel of the collection, ‘Glassed Candy’ features a delectable jar of candy sticks, which pop off the paper in hand-colored triumph.

“Although Thiebaud also explored portraiture, landscapes and still lives with great success, his images of sweet treats are usually the most celebrated and sought-after,” continued Henry. “The present work is the quintessential Thiebaud subject- executed in the mid-1960’s, simply etched and brightly colored reminiscentof the old-fashioned general or penny candy stores, purveyors of American childhood treats since the early 19th  Century.

“The black lines of this work are etched, but the color is entirely executed by hand in joyful, vivid watercolors. Only two other examples of the etching without watercolor have been sold on the market, so it is likely that the etching itself was in fact never fully realized.  That the artist chose an already rare work to lovingly and carefully re-work in watercolor renders it a one-of-a-kind treat that blurs the distinction between print and drawing. The present work is unique, intimate and iconic – deserving of special notice by any measure.”

Wayne Thiebaud Glassed Candy

The Patricia & John Roche collection also showcases paintings, prints and watercolors from other highly regarded European and American artists. After decades of collecting, Mr. and Mrs. Roche decided to part with their lovingly curated collection and, with the proceeds, fund a scholarship in Mrs. Roche’s name, as it was her artistic talent that was the guiding force behind the selection of many of the individual works. Proceeds from the sale of the collection will go to fund the Patricia Kelly Roche Scholarship at St. John’s University in New York.

As with the recent Kaplan Collection in April, and the Forbes and Brewster Collections in December of 2016, Freeman’s understands the art and passion of collecting, and has long held that keeping a collection together and offering it as a whole allows the vision of the collector to shine through. Freeman’s is honored to steward the Patricia and John Roche Collection to auction this fall.

View the collection and catalogue here.

 

 

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