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    Description

    Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920)
    Orange Drink, 1961
    Oil on canvas
    22 x 36 inches (55.9 x 91.4 cm)
    Signed upper right: Thiebaud 1961
    Signed on the stretcher bar: Thiebaud

    PROVENANCE:
    Collection of the artist;
    Artists Cooperative Gallery, Sacramento, California;
    Private collection (students of the artist), Sacramento, California, acquired from the above;
    By descent to the present owner.

    EXHIBITED:
    The Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena, California, "New Paintings of Common Objects," September 25-October 19, 1962.

    This trademark Wayne Thiebaud canvas was included in the first museum exhibition of what would come to be known as Pop art, in 1962, when Abstract Expressionism still ruled the roost in New York. It displays a classic American repast about to be enjoyed, the hamburger not yet unwrapped, the paper tray still heaped with French fries, the titular bottle still full of orange soda. It is thus exemplary of his paintings of food and drink on display, sometimes behind glass but here on a lunch counter, ready to nourish the viewer. Early on in his career, Thiebaud found some of his most favored subjects and settled on a signature way of depicting them, exemplified by this canvas.

    Orange Drink was painted in 1961, the same year the artist met New York dealer Allan Stone, who would represent him until the dealer died in 2006. Stone would mount his first solo show of the painter in April 1962, including some of his classic paintings of desserts. Reviewing the exhibition, critic Max Kozloff would write that, "By some alchemy ... Thiebaud does not seem to be working with oil paint at all, but with a substance composed of flour, albumen, butter and sugar."

    That same year, Orange Drink appeared in "New Painting of Common Objects," which opened September 25 at the Pasadena Art Museum. Organized by legendary museum director and curator Walter Hopps, the exhibition placed Thiebaud alongside titans-to-be such as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol in the first museum show of Pop art. (Ed Ruscha created the poster for the exhibition by instructing a sign artist over the telephone-"literally phoning it in," as critic Andrew Russeth noted in The Observer on the show's fiftieth anniversary.) It was a year of bicoastal triumph for the artist: New York dealer Sidney Janis included him in his pioneering 1962 show "International Exhibition of the New Realists."
    Though often grouped with Pop artists, and though he undeniably shares in common with them a focus on everyday consumer subject matter, Thiebaud insists that he is "not a card-carrying Pop artist." Thiebaud, rather, took up sides with the art directors, commercial artists and designers who Pop artists owed so much to, and whose work they would often quote. He had been a teenage apprentice Disney cartoonist, and while in the service, he drew comics for an Army Air Force newspaper. He worked in the advertising department of Rexall Drugs, and created movie posters for Universal Pictures. By contrast with the Pop artists, Thiebaud describes himself as "just an old-fashioned painter." He has even been vocally skeptical of Pop, dubbing the movement "a fairly weak echo of really quite wonderful graphic designers and people in the field of commercial art."

    Thiebaud's early critical successes were followed by an unparalleled career, with museums such as New York's Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York extensively collecting his work. In 1994, the same year that Bill Clinton awarded him a National Medal of Arts, he achieved a more down-home distinction, with the State of California devoting the first license plate in its series of California Arts Plates to Thiebaud. Proceeds from sales of the plate, featuring his 1993 painting Coastline, go to support arts education programs through grants administered by the California Arts Council.

    Born in Mesa, Arizona, in 1920, Thiebaud grew up in Long Beach, California. Several years after earning a master's degree in art history at Sacramento State College (now California State University, Sacramento), he would begin to teach art at the University of California, Davis, where he remained for three decades. He visited New York City on a leave of absence in 1956-57, befriending Willem and Elaine de Kooning and Franz Kline and spending time at the Abstract Expressionists' meeting place, the Cedar Tavern. He was also inspired by the work of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, but would later say that he was turned off by the "churchy feeling of a lot of New York painting."

    One can imagine few less-churchy subjects than this depiction of a hearty meal, complete with condiments. The burger, fries, ketchup and mustard are all supporting actors to the orange drink, which is in the lead role and whose profile closely matches that of a contemporary bottle of Orange Crush soda. The knife, which betrays that it's been dipped in the mustard, supplies a delightful sense of a specific moment. While Pop artists often studied the logos of the various brands they depicted, Thiebaud has removed the labels from his products, placing the focus squarely on form, recalling the soft geometries of the renowned still life painter Giorgio Morandi, whom Thiebaud greatly admires.

    "People say painting's dead," Thiebaud has said. "Fine. It's dead for you. I don't care. Painting is alive for me. Painting is life for me."


    Condition Report*: No indications of damage or loss, there are no cracks in the paint, and there is no active lifting, flaking or separation of media, painting has been recently cleaned/conserved, please contact Holly Sherratt at HollyS@HA.com for a detailed condition/conservation report.

    Framed Dimensions 23 X 37 Inches
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2020
    18th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 7,301

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