WPP Annual Reports continue their tradition of taking their visual cues from world economies of importance to our company and to our clients. In recent years, we’ve looked to India, China, Africa and last year, Latin America (via Brazil) for inspiration.
This year we’ve focused on the United States, the world’s largest market, a nation whose significance and strength – despite the shift in global economic focus shifting from west to east - remains supreme. In our own industry, as with so many others, the US still accounts for almost half of the world market. Twenty-six of our top 50 clients are headquartered there. It is a nation in which WPP has deep roots. All but two of the Group’s major networks are based there.
So, in this spirit, and for this, our 25th anniversary Annual Report, WPP is honoured to have obtained permission to ‘borrow’ works from one of America’s most distinguished modern painters, Wayne Thiebaud. His iconic everyday images have fired the public imagination for nearly 40 years.
None of this would have been possible without the helpful co-operation of his representatives at VAGA in New York, to whom we express our great gratitude.
About the artist
Wayne Thiebaud, whose work is featured in this report, is one of America’s most acclaimed modern artists. His iconic images of everyday objects, bakery and delicatessen goods and other consumer products in rich textured paint, are instantly recognisable and have been exhibited all over the world. Thiebaud was born in 1920 to a Mormon family in Arizona. He studied in California, but with no formal training in drawing or painting, learned his trade commercially, working as a cartoonist, poster designer, commercial artist and even a stint as an animator at Disney.
Before establishing himself as a painter, Thiebaud briefly worked as an art director for two Manhattan advertising agencies. It was in 1962 at the relatively late age of 42, that he came to national prominence with his first New York one-man show. The event was a sellout drawing rave reviews from critics. His arrival on the New York art scene coincided with exhibitions by groundbreaking artists Jim Dine, Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg, leading to him being linked with the Pop Art movement. Though they shared a focus on commonplace objects of American consumer culture, Thiebaud’s thickly painted, strangely illuminated forms convey a sense of fun and a pathos seldom found in that genre. With his intense love of paint, he saw himself in the tradition of realist painting – his world was store counters, cakes, pies, desserts, deli counters, salamis and cheeses. “Food familiar to every American child”, as he has said of his early works.
Like Andy Warhol, another contemporary new artist with a background in advertising, Thiebaud’s commercial grounding informs his layout of American consumer imagery – fruit, sandwiches, yo-yos, ties, lipsticks, gumball machines. What Thiebaud has called the “tattletale signs” of our culture.
Later in his career, he turned to figurative painting, and then to landscapes, albeit uniquely American ones, and cityscapes such as freeway curves and the giddy gradients of San Francisco. In parallel with his prolific artistic body of work, Thiebaud has a reputation as a fine educationalist. After more than 30 years as a faculty member at University of California, Davis, he retired from full time teaching of art and art history in 1990 at the age of 80. Recognition of his standing as an artist and teacher has come in the dozens of medals, awards and honorary degrees bestowed upon him. In 1994 he was presented with the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton.
- All Art © Wayne Thiebaud Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY