Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism. Become a Member »

Vonn Cummings Sumner, "Watching a Dumpster Fire" (2020), oil on canvas over panel, 14 3/4 x 16 x 1 inches (image courtesy the artist © Vonn Sumner)

The profound influence of longtime UC Davis art professor Wayne Thiebaud on a new generation of contemporary artists is the focus of a multi-faceted exhibition currently on view at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, at the University of California, Davis.

The professor emeritus, who turned 100 in November 2020, first joined the university’s fledgling art department in 1959. Wayne Thiebaud Influencer: A New Generation explores how Thiebaud forecast the future of painting through his personal journey to find meaning and reinvention in the medium’s history — and inspired his students to do the same. “He found his voice at a very volatile time in the art world,” said Manetti Shrem Founding Director Rachel Teagle. “Painting as a medium and practice was dead. Wayne championed a new path forward.” 

Think of this group exhibition as Thiebaud’s classroom operating across time and place, where works of art reverberate with the flow of shared ideas. 19 exhibiting artists reflect the breadth of Thiebaud’s influence and honor his dedication to practicing the fundamentals; his penchant to paint the people, places, and objects of daily life; and his passion for looking to the history of art as a source of inspiration. 

Andrea Bowers, Robert Colescott, Alex Israel, Jason Stopa, Jonas Wood, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye are featured alongside 13 mid- and late-career artists who studied with Thiebaud in the classroom and independently: Julie Bozzi, Christopher Brown, Gene Cooper, Richard Crozier, April Glory Funcke, Fredric Hope, Grace Munakata, Bruce Nauman, Vonn Cummings Sumner, Ann Harrold Taylor, Michael Tompkins, Clay Vorhes, and Patricia Wall.

Together these artists chart an alternate course of how painting makes meaning in the 21st century. 

On view through November 12, 2021. Book a timed ticket to visit or experience the exhibition through its digital companion website at manettishrem.org.