Three Streets Down

Three Streets Down
Wayne Thiebaud, ca. 1975
color monotype, 43.8 x 57.2 cm
(17 1/4 x 22 1/2 in.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible by John E. Lodge

Thiebaud Biography

Despite the ease with which a color monotype can be made, many artists have explored the abstract tonal possibilities of the medium by limiting themselves to black and white. Wayne Thiebaud, for example, a consummate colorist and representational painter, created a series of spare yet painterly landscapes in monotype during the mid-1970s in which the dramatic structural elements of the composition are complemented by the gestural quality of the tonal areas. Rather than focusing on the changing forms and moods of nature in the tradition of Romantic landscapes, Thiebaud's monotypes emphasize man's alterations to nature, from a dramatic freeway curving against a blank sky to a steep hillside sliced by roads that seem to defy the law of gravity. Juxtaposed with the lush, painterly texture of the hillside, heightened with a touch of yellow ink, the hardness and linearity of the paved road are emphasized by the stark contrast of its dark edges against white paper, caused by the pooling of ink wiped from the surface of the plate. A traditionally trained artist for whom drawing is the basis of his work, Thiebaud approached the monotype as a form of painterly drawing in which texture, tone, and line are intimately related in a single stroke or gesture.

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