Potrero Hill by Wayne Thiebaud
1976, oil on canvas, 36 x 44 in.
San Antonio Art Musuem, Texas
While the above picture isn't one of Thiebaud's more popular images, it's just as electric as the others. Well-known for his paintings of delicious food and sweets, I would argue that he is much more well-known for his unique style of art, which is most obvious in Potrero Hill.
Whenever an artist chooses to not only paint a specific place, but also label the painting with the specific place, they are inviting others to critique their art. No one looks at Potrero Hill and thinks "What a cool imaginary place!" instead they may think things such as "That is NOT what Potrero Hill looks like" or "I remember when I visited there in the 80's." Either way, people are going to talk because the subject of the piece is shoved into their face... and to me, that's brilliant.
I once read that Thiebaud is not so much labeled as an expressionist but rather likes to emphasis the expression of realism. Yeah, I know if you aren't an art junkie that could sound like blah blah blah. Basically, Thiebaud focuses on portraying real things in a way that is filled with emotion and livelihood. I mean look at Potrero Hill and tell me you don't want to live atop that beautiful hill in the yellow or lime green house!
To create such a image that jumps out to your eyes Thiebaud had a pretty awesome method. He would go outdoors and directly observe what he wanted to paint that he would go into his studio and paint from memory to give the image room to be playful. I had the pleasure of seeing this image in person and I can tell you that the one thing that you can't tell from a mere picture is the brushstroke of the Potrero Hill. The most beautiful thing about this piece was that the paint looked like icing on a cake, actually that IS typical Thiebaud, he has that weird ability to make his images cause the viewer to salivate... go ahead, go google him and see for yourself.
So how can I sum up Thiebaud? Well he is actually kind of easy because if I had to chose one word to describe him it would be EXAGGERATION.
Wayne Thiebaud exaggerates his imagery in the most delicious way.