American-born Wayne Thiebaud was a 20th century artist of great influence and renown. Before his death in 2006 at the age of 97, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1994 and in 2001, the Lifetime Achievement Award for Art by the Academy of Design. Thiebaud was a pre-eminent practitioner of Pop Art. His habit of painting ordinary objects such as hot dogs, paint cans and tubes of lipstick hugely influenced Andy Warhol’s era-defining ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans’ painting.
Wayne Thiebaud used heavy colours and shadows, imitating the graphic design of US advertising of the 1950s and 60s. He didn’t consider himself a Pop Artist, describing his artistic endeavour as a ‘painter of illusionist form.’ This didn’t stop him being considered a pioneer of the movement, especially for his 1962 exhibition in New York City at the Sydney Janis gallery. His display of everyday objects heralded the birth of a new way of creating, thinking about and understanding art this is still with us today. As well as his mass culture work, Wayne Thiebaud also painted landscapes, street and cityscapes and people, in a hyperrealist style. He didn’t make distinctions between high and low art and considered himself ‘just an old-fashioned painter’.