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Jackpot Machine

1962 Wayne Thiebaud Born: Mesa, Arizona 1920 oil on canvas 38 x 26 7/8 in. (96.5 x 68.3 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase made possible by the American Art Forum and gift of an anonymous donor 1995.37 Smithsonian American Art Museum
3rd Floor, North Wing

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Jackpot Machine

Gallery Label

Thiebaud painted Jackpot Machine just as he broke into the national scene after years of surviving on commercial art and cartooning. A coin slot peers over the top edge of the machine like one wary eye. The one-armed bandit blocks the viewer's path and the pay slot gapes as if to say "your money or your life." But the image is as seductive as it is aggressive. Thiebaud believes that "painting is more important than art," and he uses luscious paint to capture the jacked-up colors of California's unabashedly commercial culture. Creamy strokes of red, white, and blue invite the viewer to follow the American dream, grab the handle and get rich quick, like all those who come to the West Coast looking for the prize. Only two out of three tokens line up, however, as if Thiebaud wanted to point out how random success can be.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006


Recreation - sport and play - slot machine


paint - oil

fabric - canvas