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March 15: a favorite: Thiebaud’s “Coloma Ridge”


"Colma Ridge"  1967  74x75" []
“Coloma Ridge”     1967      74×75″     []
Among the many fascinations of Wayne Thiebaud’s work is his happy incorporation of elements both representational and abstract in the same piece. Of course, every painting is abstract in the sense that its design is made up of shapes and colors that may or may not be representational, but few artists bounce from one degree of improbability to another as freely and playfully as Thiebaud.

As in “Coloma Ridge.” Thiebaud loves corners, and plunges unabashedly from the upper left to the lower right. The landscape cascading down the top of the ridge is representational, if stylized in the Thiebaudian manner, but then the sliced-off cliff settles into straight abstraction. He keeps it all in one design by counterchange (the lower left is dark with lights in it; the upper right is light with darks in it, especially those unlikely but happily linking blue shadows), and by the many and varied repetitions of swoopy diagonals. Not merely an audacious image, but a very sound composition.