Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Bowdoin College Museum of Art Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Gumball Machine

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Wayne Thiebaud


Gumball Machine

Creation Date


Medium & Support

five-color linocut on paper


30 1/4 in. x 22 1/4 in. (76.84 cm x 56.52 cm)

Credit Line

Museum Purchase, Barbara Cooney Porter Fund

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This color linocut of a gum ball machine, a recurring motif in Thiebaud’s work, exemplifies his interest in quotidian objects evocative of personal memories. In a 1969 interview, he described such a dispenser as “both a most elementary mechanism and a gadget for stimulating the grandest sort of associations and references.” Thiebaud imbues the mundane with a sense of intangible nostalgia and magical realism through bold colors, dark contours, crisp shadows, and graphic compositional balance—devices characteristic of his early training as an animator and commercial advertiser. The heightened sense of perfection achieved through simplification of form and pristine linearity paradoxically conveys a dreamlike quality of the familiarly generic yet personally specific, and allows the “psychological implications,” as Thiebaud described, to radiate through his work.

Portfolios: Collections: Works on paper - American Prints   FEAT|Contemporary Art   Collections: Works on paper