Recent Acquisition | Wayne Thiebaud’s “Lipstick Row”

Susan Sheehan Gallery
Sep 24, 2018 8:40PM

Lipstick Row, 1970, screenprint, 22 ½ x 30 inches, edition of 50, signed, dated, and numbered in pencil on recto

Best known for his still-life depictions of everyday objects such as desserts and household items shown in repetition, Wayne Thiebaud first gained national recognition in the early 1960s. Using a clear-sighted realism and a colorful palette endowed with a radiant California light, he celebrated conventional items considering them interpretations of “Americanness.” As he said, “Common objects become strangely uncommon when removed from their context and ordinary ways of being seen.” Though he is most often grouped with the Pop art movement for his subject matter, the artist considers himself “just an old-fashioned painter,” and “not a card-carrying Pop artist.”

Thiebaud’s remarkable career has equally embraced the realms of painting, drawing, and printmaking. His early formative experiences in the 1940s included work as an illustrator and commercial designer, and he was also inspired by demonstrations of printmaking at California state fairs. Later, he would later develop a close working relationship with the printer Kathan Brown at the workshop Crown Point Press in San Francisco where he created many of his delightful prints. While he was there, Thiebaud would fine tune his skills as a draughtsman through his relentless investigations into form, volume, and perspective.

At the core of Thiebaud’s work, there is a great purity as evidenced by the screenprint, “Lipstick Row” from 1970. In one respect this still-life composition is reduced to a point of near abstraction with the plain background and the tightly ordered and reduced shapes of triangles, tubes, and half-circles comprising the commonplace items. The shapes are characteristically outlined in multiple colors, creating a visual effect Thiebaud says is akin to vibration. Further exploring form and volume, Thiebaud also uses repetition in the work as “it has to do with the tradition of painting, of orchestrating a single shape into its various configurative potentials.” The composition also has an appealingly sensuous quality thanks to the subject matter, colors, and brilliant light. In the end though, he hopes to elicit an enjoyable experience in viewers, for as he says, “I love it when people smile at my work, it’s for pleasure really.”

Susan Sheehan Gallery