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Thiebaud, Ponds and Streams
- Wayne Thiebaud uses unnatural colors, strong contrasts, and an unconventional sense of perspective to paint a landscape that is beautiful, but also distant from the natural world. This modern landscape is man-made and artificial, but also presents us with a type of constructed beauty.
- The Sacramento River valley is the most productive agricultural region in America, despite its naturally arid conditions. The landscape has been significantly altered and controlled in order to provide water to these farms. These interventions have led to episodes of water pollution in a heavily populated area. In recent years, drought has also become an important issue.
- Landscape painting has a long tradition in the United States often characterized by a nostalgia for the landscape before its settlement and development.
More to think about
Bolthouse [an industrial farm in the Central Valley] processes six million pounds of carrots a day. If you took its yield from one week and stacked each carrot from end to end, you could circle the earth. If you took all the carrots the company grows in a year, they would double the weight of the Empire State Building….At Bolthouse’s complex, carrots whirl around on conveyor belts at up to 50 miles an hour en route to their future as juliennes, coins and stubs, or baby carrots, which the company popularized and which aren’t babies.
Given this reality, why do you think that so many Americans persist in imagining farms as quaint small family operations? Does Thiebaud’s painting make you think differently about the modern agricultural landscape?
Smarthistory images for teaching and learning: