The painting ‘Man Sitting – Back View’ was created by Wayne Thiebaud in 1964. The artwork is an oil painting on canvas that measures 36 by 29 and a half inches (91.4 cm x 74.9 cm) and it is housed at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art. It was purchased with funds from the Wllliam Toben Memorial Fund and donations from museum friends.
The work is composed of three identical figures, each depicting a seated figure facing away from the viewer. All forms have a square shape, though they are slightly distorted at different angles to reflect motion despite their static pose. They are drawn with soft, organic lines articulating subtle differences between their poses in the cloth of their shirts and jackets, or their arms and legs positioned differently from one another. The muted colors of blues, greens, oranges, yellows and reds combine to create a balanced yet dynamic composition that enlivens the arrangement of the figures and strengthens the underlying idea of static energy suspended in time.
This piece is just one part of Wayne Thiebaud’s long-standing exploration into representational art theory; his works crosses stylistic divides between abstract representation and realism. Another noteworthy example is Hill Street (Day City) from 1981 – this painting builds on Man Sitting – Back View to create a chaotic, gestural landscape populated by abstracted but tangible shapes that line the streets in a frantic but aesthetically pleasing composition that speaks to Thiebaud’s love for ordered chaos.