Steep Street

Estimated value: $12,000-$17,000. Few artists capture the real and fantastical beauty of San Francisco as deftly as Wayne Thiebaud. Steep Street, a 1989 etching created in the studios of the renowned Crown Point Press, showcases Thiebaud’s unique approach to rendering the city’s signature terrain, freely conflating the geometry of streets and buildings, undulating topography, and ethereal, sherbet-hued light in a magical composition.

Published by Crown Point Press

Few artists capture both the real and the fantastical beauty of San Francisco as deftly as Wayne Thiebaud. The artist’s long affinity for the city has fostered an intimacy with its hills, streets, and buildings, which he translates into magical compositions that straddle the line between representation and abstraction, freely conflating architectural and topographical features to construct scenes at once recognizable and illusory.

Steep Street, a 1989 etching created in the studios of San Francisco’s renowned Crown Point Press, showcases not only Thiebaud’s technical talent, but also his unique approach to rendering the city’s signature terrain—an impossibly steep promontory, the geometric angles of streets and buildings, the undulating crags of the hill’s silhouette, and an ethereal, sherbet-hued light. Thiebaud’s San Francisco is uncannily familiar even as it evades literal representation.

Over the course of a more than seventy-year career, Thiebaud has earned a place in many of the most prominent public and private art collections around the world, as well as honors such as the National Medal of Arts (1994), the Distinguished Artists Achievement Award from the California Society of Printmakers (1995), a Lifetime Achievement Award for Art from the American Academy of Design (2001), and SFMOMA’s Bay Area Treasure Award (2006). SFMOMA has the distinction of hosting Thiebaud’s first local solo exhibition in 1960, as well as a career retrospective corresponding with the museum’s fiftieth-anniversary celebration in 1985.

About Wayne Thiebaud

Best known for his paintings of cakes, pies, pastries, and toys, Wayne Thiebaud hadn’t planned on becoming a visual artist. He apprenticed as a cartoonist at Walt Disney studios and intended to work as a commercial illustrator, but his friend Robert Mallary turned him towards a career in fine art. Thiebaud was friendly with Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning, but avoided their Abstract Expressionism in favor of a figural style. Though Thiebaud 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.” He remains best known for his still lifes of confections—sometimes painted from his own memories—which he considers interpretations of “Americanness.” In his works, objects and their shadows are characteristically outlined in multiple colors, creating a visual effect Thiebaud calls akin to vibration.

American, b. 1920, Mesa, Arizona, based in San Francisco, California

Exhibition Highlights On Artsy

2016
Four New Etchings by Wayne Thiebaud, Crown Point Press, San Francisco
2016
I Can See For Miles, Allan Stone Projects, New York
2016
Inaugural Exhibitions, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), San Francisco
2016
The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), San Francisco
2015
International Pop, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Solo Shows on Artsy

2016
Four New Etchings by Wayne Thiebaud, Crown Point Press, San Francisco
2016
Wayne Thiebaud: Four New Etchings, Crown Point Press, San Francisco
2015
Wayne Thiebaud: Eight New Etchings, Crown Point Press, San Francisco
2014
Wayne Thiebaud- Online Exhibition, Nohra Haime Gallery, New York
2013
Wayne Thiebaud: Memory Mountains, Paul Thiebaud Gallery, San Francisco

Group Shows on Artsy

2016
End of Summer Show, Scott White Contemporary Art, Online exhibition
2016
I Can See For Miles, Allan Stone Projects, New York
2016
Summer Choices: A Group Exhibition, Crown Point Press, San Francisco
2016
Inaugural Exhibitions, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), San Francisco
2016
The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), San Francisco
2016
Scratches, Spit and Vinegar, Crown Point Press, San Francisco
2015
International Pop, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
View Artist's CV