Wayne Thiebaud, born November 15, 1920, was a renowned painter and teacher who will be remembered fondly by each of his students. Thiebaud was not only a brilliant teacher in the arts but also an inspiration to them. Having made this point clear, we can speak of the millions of people who were not his students at the University of California but learned something of the art or perhaps of themselves, inspired by the incredible and enormous work Thiebaud left in this world. Hundreds of paintings and prints corroborate the artistic genius of the Arizona native. This month, we celebrate Thiebaud’s special day with what we know about his life and work, so read on.
Wayne Thiebaud, born November 15, 1920, in Mesa, Arizona, moved at a young age to Southern California with his parents, Alicia Eugenia Le Baron and Morton Thiebaud. Thiebaud and his family belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The young Thiebaud spent his early school years in Long Beach, California, where his father worked as a mechanic for Ford and held other jobs on the side. His first approach to drawing and painting came when he was still a teenager. More than passion (although not lacking), painting was a way to earn money while he was still a student. His next academic steps led him to study at Frank Wiggins Trade School, which led him to live in Los Angeles. However, it was not until 1949, after working in New York and California and serving in the Army, that Thiebaud earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Sacramento.
He then became a teacher at Sacramento City College, where he worked until the 1990s. He only left the position for a few seasons to travel the U.S. and meet other incredible painters such as Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning. The influence of other artists had a noticeable impact on his work. Thiebaud changed and transformed his style several times over the years. This included portraying basic forms and finding them in everyday settings. It was not until 1962 that Thiebaud got recognition in the Pop Art scene thanks to an exhibition of different painters, in New York, with the help of Sidney Janis. Throughout his career, his work would be associated with painters such as Roy Lichtenstein, Jim Dine, and Andy Warhol, even though he did not identify with the art movement. His work became increasingly sober and detailed, but he never lost his perfectionism and the hard work he put into each painting.
Thiebaud had four children — Twinka Thiebaud, the famous model and author, and Mallary Ann with his first wife, Patricia Patterson. He then married Betty Jean Carr, who gave birth to Paul Le Baron Thiebaud, a renowned art dealer who even worked for his father before his death in 2010. He adopted Matthew, son of the first marriage of his second wife, Carr.
Thiebaud pursues a career through his passion for drawing, and soon after, he begins working formally as a painter.
Thiebaud works as a designer and cartoonist while commuting between California and New York.
Thiebaud works for three years in the Army Air Forces unit intending to produce films about World War II.
Thiebaud teaches at the University of California until 1991, shaping the art of hundreds of painters.
Thiebaud displays his art in a San Francisco museum and subsequently finds his work exhibited in hundreds of museums and galleries throughout his career.
Why We Love Wayne Thiebaud
He was a multi-terrain artist
Whether drawing cartoons, mountains, or cities, Thiebaud's style was mutating and transforming. However, he was certainly never a pigeonholed artist.
He worked for over 50 years
His most recognized works were created over half a century and never stopped. Thiebaud certainly needed to paint like he needed to breathe.
He advocated for hard work
Thiebaud defended hard work as the fundamental basis of an artist's work. However, it's not all about creating sensitively by relying on your gifts. You also have to improve and work on your art.
5 Surprising Facts
He worked at Disney
His first job was drawing in-betweens at the Walt Disney Studios with a salary of $14 a week.
His hard work ethic
Thiebaud's father was not only a mechanic but was also a creamery foreman, traffic supervisor, real state agent, and Bishop — quite an example to follow.
His time in the Army
His time in the military was incredibly well spent in a unit in charge of film productions in World War II.
He lived for a century
Thiebaud died at the age of 101, more than enough years to create such incredible works.
He was not a fan of Warhol
Despite being associated with the greats of Pop art, he never recognized himself as part of Warhol’s artistic current.
Wayne Thiebaud FAQs
Which gallery did Wayne Thiebaud co-found?
Thiebaud co-founded Artists Contemporary Gallery and the cooperative Pond Farm.
How did Wayne Thiebaud die?
Thiebaud died of natural causes after surpassing a century of age.
What style did Wayne Thiebaud paint?
Thiebaud never adhered to the currents in which he was placed, expressed a love of realism, was identified as part of the Figurative movement and claimed to paint Illusionistic form.
Wayne Thiebaud’s birthday dates