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david ebony's new york top ten

wayne thiebaud
at allan stone

May 21-June 30, 1997

Wayne Thiebaud
Wide Downstreet

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   Nowadays, many 1960s works by New York Pop artists are treated like icons. This exhibition, an overview of Wayne Thiebaud's career, is a reminder of his formidable contribution to the Pop idiom from a West Coast point of view. East Coast Pop often seems to have a dirty element to it, in the form of either naughtiness or grime. But the Bay Area-based Thiebaud paints everyday objects in clean, luscious, creamy oil, imbuing them with a kind of innocence and purity.

In Fish Tray, Coffee Cup and Mickey Mouse Cake, the objects named in the titles all glow with a celestial light, courtesy of Thiebaud's superb use of bright yellow, blue outlines and purple shadows. In these works, the artist's world appears to be a place of order and wholesomeness, yet one that is also inviting and fun. Where he really lets his hair down is in the landscapes, of which this exhibition has a number of terrific examples. The canvas Brown River shows a muddy river wildly snaking through beautifully rendered fields of yellow, purple and orange. One of the most striking works on view, Wide Downstreet, from 1994, is a large canvas showing an absurdly tilted-up wide road that thrusts upwards from the bottom of the canvas to the top. In this dramatic work, the artist seems to redefine the notion of perspective. In Wide DownStreet and a number of other works on view, Thiebaud makes a bid to expand his formidable reputation beyond the realm of Pop.