Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920) is a prominent painter and print maker, who is often associated with Pop Art and the Bay Area Figurative movement. Interested in a formal approach to composition, he is best known for his imagery of food, familiar objects, portraits, cityscapes, and landscapes. He came of age during the Abstract Expressionist movement, incorporating the thick pigments into his representational works, which are influenced by cartoons and comic strips and depict everyday American objects. Thiebaud made his first prints in 1964 and has produced important color woodcuts, etchings, lithographs, and silkscreens.
Born in Mesa, AZ, Thiebaud established himself as a cartoonist at a young age, working for a brief time as an animator for the Walt Disney studios and drawing a regular comic strip during a World War II stint in the Air Force. He also worked as a poster designer and commercial artist in both California and New York before deciding to become a painter. He studied at San José State College and the California State College in Sacramento under the GI Bill. In 1956, Thiebaud moved to New York, where he was in the midst of the Abstract Expressionist movement. He was influenced by the thick pigments used, applying it to his own subjects and style. In the early 1960s he returned to California, having developed a style of colloquial, representational paintings of food and consumer goods. His treatment of light and shadow, thick paint, and bright Kool-Aid colors became his signature style. In 1972, Thiebaud added paintings of the landscape and city views to his subject matter.
His work has been the subject of exhibitions at major museums worldwide. The Whitney Museum of American Art organized a retrospective of his work in 2001. He has received numerous honors for his work, most notably the National Medal of Arts, presented to him by President William J. Clinton in a 1994 ceremony at the White House.