Luscious and melodic, River Ponds exhibits the full range of brushstroke in Thiebaud’s oeuvre. Describing the breadth of movement in the artist’s work, Adam Gopnik writes, “This range of tempi, this variety of brushstrokes not put entirely at the service of description but intended to create a visible rhythm of its own, this jumpy unevenness in the much more concentrated, chamber-music format of Thiebaud’s own work became one of its most distinctive features” (Adam Gopnik in: Exh. Cat., Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (and traveling), Wayne Thiebaud: A Paintings Retrospective, 2000, p. 50). The present work is rich with thick long strokes, which striate the surface into organized rows of crops, and staccato moments of brushwork, which fill the canvas with leafy vegetation. Demonstrating an exceptional mastery of color, Thiebaud employs his signature “halation” technique; he juxtaposes warm and cool tones to produce a resounding prismatic synergy that contours and electrifies each form off the surface of the canvas. With its bird’s-eye view, River Ponds places the drama of a gorgeously pink sunset against the unexpected combinations of lime green and neon orange, deep brown and cool indigo. His thick impasto strokes pulsate with a palpable energy and translate the landscape’s uniquely beautiful balance of the natural and the man-made.
The harmonious aura of River Ponds marks a departure from the impossibly elongated and vertiginous proportions of Thiebaud’s San Francisco cityscapes. His keen attention to light and atmosphere calls to mind Claude Monet’s Haystacks, as he attempts “to express various seasons, various times of the day, various vantage points” (the artist cited in: Hilarie M. Sheets, “A Riverscape, From Higher Ground,” The New York Times, 30 September 2010, online). The Delta Paintings take on the storied tradition of American landscape painting; River Ponds draws viewers’ attention to the man-made taming of the great American terrain, much as Thomas Cole did a century and a half before. In addition to its art historical resonance, River Ponds conveys a modern sensibility with recognizable California roots. Thiebaud’s demonstrable tension between abstraction and realism calls to mind the powerfully abstracted Northern California landscapes of his contemporary Richard Diebenkorn.
With its invocation of the sublime beauty of the American West, viewers luxuriate in the sensual pleasure of River Ponds. They sense the calm yet structured environment; they feel the incalculable allure of life in the Delta. In terms particularly evocative of the present work, Allan Stone, gallerist and longtime devotee of Thiebaud’s work, writes: “These landscapes are fanciful yet grounded. They are airy yet planted. They are fluid yet mappable. The viewer can river-float through a landscape, balloon-float over a landscape, and yet plant corn all at once” (Allan Stone in: Exh. Cat., San Francisco, Paul Thiebaud Gallery (and traveling), Wayne Thiebaud: Riverscapes, 2002, n.p.).
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale