May 4, 2022
4 minute read

Wayne Thiebaud: A Celebration, 1920-2021

Wayne Thiebaud (American, 1920–2021), Boston Cremes, 1962. Oil on canvas, 14 x 18 in. Crocker Art Museum Purchase, 1964.22. © Wayne Thiebaud / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.

The Crocker Art Museum is thrilled to announce the opening of Wayne Thiebaud: A Celebration, 1920–2021, on view from May 29 – August 7, 2022. Initially titled Wayne Thiebaud 100: Paintings, Prints, and Drawings, the exhibition opened in Sacramento only briefly in 2020 before the Museum closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. After a nationwide tour, it returns to the Crocker, even larger than before, with 18 newly acquired works added to the show. In this presentation, the exhibition celebrates not just a birthday but an artist's life.

"Wayne Thiebaud changed the way we think about what art can be and about how we see ourselves," explains Scott A. Shields, Ph.D., the Crocker's inaugural Ted and Melza Barr Chief Curator and Associate Director. "Those of us in Sacramento think of him as our own, but Thiebaud was truly America's artist, and his work was beloved internationally. His canvases are some of the most important paintings ever made in California, and they possess an enduring interest, combining nostalgia and optimism, loneliness and isolation. He has left us an incredible legacy of art that will never be forgotten."

Wayne Thiebaud: A Celebration is the largest survey of Thiebaud's work in 20 years and includes 117 works, 99 from the original exhibition, and another 17 drawings recently donated to the Crocker by the Wayne Thiebaud Foundation and a pastel given by Anna Barbour Francis. The exhibition follows the artist's career beginning in the 1940s, just a few years after Thiebaud came to the Sacramento region and became a cartoonist for the United States Army Air Forces while stationed at Mather Field Air Force Base. Among the works on view are many of the subjects for which Thiebaud is best known and loved, including sweet treats, paintings of people, urban and agricultural landscapes respectively of San Francisco and the Sacramento Valley, and the artist's final body of work, circus clowns.

"This exhibition truly celebrates the Crocker’s long history with Wayne Thiebaud. From his first solo exhibition in 1951 to the short run of our 2020 exhibition aligned with his 100th birthday, we’re honored to have been a part of bringing this outstanding artist to the world,” remarks Lial A. Jones, Mort and Marcy Friedman Director and CEO. “We hope that Wayne Thiebaud: A Celebration, particularly with the new works from Wayne himself, will effectively commemorate the successful career and rich life of our very dear friend.”

The exhibition run overlaps with that of Twinka Thiebaud and the Art of the Pose (on view June 19 – September 11, 2022), which explores the art-modeling career of Twinka Thiebaud, Wayne Thiebaud’s daughter, who posed for some of the most important photographers and artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including her father who is represented by 13 works in the show.

Several public programs support and add context to the exhibition, including a celebration of life on Saturday, May 28, which includes a public remembrance led by Congresswoman Doris Matsui and other close friends of the artist. The full slate of exhibition-related programs includes:

  • Wayne Thiebaud Celebration of Life – May 28

  • ArtTastes: Pies, Pies, Pies – June 2

  • Michael Kimmelman on the Art and Life of Wayne Thiebaud – July 9

  • ArtMix: Sweet – July 14

  • Crocker Art Camp – Painting: From Pies to Portraits – Two sessions beginning June 20 and July 18

Studio Classes

  • Techniques in Dip Pen and Ink – July 12-20

  • Thiebaud 101: Color and Composition – June 27-29

  • Drink and Draw: Cakes and Candy – August 6

  • Color Explosion – July 25-29, ages 9-12

  • Pop Art Painting – August 1-5, ages 10-13

School and Educator Programs

  • Teacher2Teacher: Meetup to Celebrate Wayne Thiebaud

  • Gallery Bytes: Water City by Wayne Thiebaud

Information on these programs and all upcoming events at the Crocker is available at

The national tour of Wayne Thiebaud 100: Paintings, Prints, and Drawings included the Toledo Museum of Art, OH; the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, TN; the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX; and Brandywine Museum of Art, Chadds Ford, PA. The original exhibition catalogue, Wayne Thiebaud 100: Paintings, Prints, and Drawings, is available for purchase in the Crocker Museum Store.