Wayne Thiebaud, one of the most renowned Pop artists in America, was born in Mesa, Arizona in 1920. He is most known for his iconic images of food, rendered in a style which may have stemmed from his early experience as a freelance cartoonist in the late 1930's.
While serving in the army from 1942 to 1945, Thiebaud was able to flex his artistic muscles by working as a cartoonist and painting murals for the officers' club and the post theater before being assigned to the first Motion Picture Unit in Culver City, California. In 1946, while employed as a cartoonist, he also took a job as an advertising artist in Hollywood for Universal Studios. In 1949 Thiebaud enrolled at California State University at San Jose, transferring to the University at Sacramento, where he received a B.A. in 1951 and an M.A. in 1952. During his college years he worked on commissions for the California State Fair and Exposition, serving as a design and art consultant. He taught studio art and art history at Sacramento City College from 1951 to 1959, becoming chairman of the department in 1954. From 1959 to 1972, he taught at the University of California at Davis. In 1968 he represented the United States in the Sao Paulo Biennal in Brazil. In 1981 the College Art Association named Thiebaud the most distinguished studio teacher of the year. In 1985 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Thiebaud is best known for his still life paintings of everyday objects like sandwiches, gumball machines, toys, cafeteria-type foods, and especially thickly painted cakes and pies. His work illustrates a more nostalgic rather than satirical depiction of American consumerism, which was a staple of other artists of the Pop movement in the 1960's. He later went on to paint San Francisco landscapes in the 1970's. His most recent works are brilliantly colored semi-abstract California landscapes.