In Memory of Wayne Thiebaud

My tribute to the great Wayne Thiebaud is out in the February issue of The New Criterion—a magazine he had subscribed to for decades. I had the privilege of working with Wayne for the past few years, so the text below contains my insights into this man of impeccable integrity, strong will, and unwavering dedication to painting. Click on the image below to read the article.

During the time of our collaboration (Wayne’s words), I wrote three magazine articles—all published in The New Criterion—and three catalogue essays about his work. First, came the “Hour of the clown,” an article that dealt with social and artistic contexts, as well as the reasons for the timing of his circus-themes series. It was followed by “There ought to be clowns”—a piece on the historic background of the series. An in-depth essay on the topic, titled “Nothing is Unimportant,” was included in Wayne Thiebaud 100 centennial catalogue. Shortly after this essay was published, I took part in a panel discussion “Three Takes on Thiebaud” organized by the Crocker Museum of Art.

The third article on the circus series was “Past continuous.” It explored the parallels between Thiebaud’s direction and T.S. Eliot’s theory of artistic influence. I also contributed an essay “A Masterwork: Thiebaud’s One Hundred-year-old Clown” to the catalogue for the Wayne Thiebaud: Clowns exhibition held at the Laguna Art Museum in 2020-21. As part of the programming for the LAM exhibition the museum recorded my video tour an online lecture on the evolution of the series.

My latest monographic essay on Wayne’s work “Anyone Can be My Protagonist: Wayne Thiebaud’s Unrepresented Spectator” is forthcoming in the volume titled People. The book contains a selection of paintings and drawings of the human figure from the entirety of the painter’s career. This was Wayne last project before his passing on Christmas Day 2021.