which statement best describes what wayne thiebaud’s painting pie counter suggests about the 1950s.
In 1963, he turned increasingly to figure painting: wooden and rigid, with each detail sharply emphasized. In 1964, he made his first prints at Crown Point Press, and has continued to make prints throughout his career. In 1967, his work was shown at the Biennale Internationale.
Thiebaud was born to Morton and Alice Thiebaud in Mesa, Arizona.  They moved a year later to Southern California where the family lived for most of Thiebaud’s childhood until he graduated from high school in Long Beach, California.  Thiebaud and his family were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his father was bishop when he was a teenager.  Morton Thiebaud was a Ford mechanic, foreman at Gold Medal Creamery, traffic safety supervisor, and real estate agent. 
A fan of his contemporaries Jasper Johns and Claes Oldenburg, Thiebaud never warmed to other Pop artists, whose detached, mechanized images lampoon America’s consumer culture. Rather, Thiebaud’s paintings, while offering their own commentary on ritualized mass production of food, serve up affection and nostalgia.
“His work is something that will bring people from around the world,” says Scott Shields, the Crocker’s chief curator, who collaborated with the painter on this fall’s retrospective. “It’s always been my belief that you go to Spain to see Goya, you go to Iowa to see Grant Wood and you come to Sacramento to see Thiebaud.”
In the buoyant, celebratory tone of these Delta paintings an answer to an art historical conundrum can be found. Thiebaud is often casually associated with the Pop Art movement of the early 1960s. His entry into the New York art world with cakes and pies coincided with the early work of Claes Oldenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol, whose deadpan renderings of commonplace American objects threatened the ascendency of Abstract Expressionism and set the scene for a return to figuration and representation in art. But Thiebaud is quick to disassociate himself from that “school.” 49 new visual species occur. . . . It doesn’t come out of Andy Warhol. That comes out of, clearly, applied art in all of its limitation.”] In technique and subject, but even more important in tone, his practice diverged considerably from these contemporaries. The deliberately super-mechanical commercial silkscreen process Warhol adopted and the faux-Benday dots that became Lichtenstein’s trademark, for instance, are dramatically different from Thiebaud’s absorption in the plasticity of paint and the craft of painting. And while all of these artists depicted easily-recognized, characteristically American objects, Thiebaud’s are not the laboratory-perfected, mass-produced foodstuffs of capitalism’s national food industries (such as Campbell’s soup and their hyperpredictable cans) but instead are the work of neighborhood professional bakers, local dairies, and main-street eateries familiar in shopfront mom-and-pop venues.
With the jocund bakery pastries and orderly deli counters in the foreground of his production, his exhibitions, and his reputation in the 1960s, Thiebaud quietly initiated the very different and important investigation into the nature of land, place, and space that some critics found profoundly unsettling. In doing so he was venturing into vexed territory—a kind of terra inconnu that appeared, to some, to deviate too substantially from his recognized oeuvre, and that deliberately challenged key precepts of post-1945 painting theory and practice. Landscape painting (and commentary on this genre) by ambitious artists and critics in the second half of the twentieth century is remarkably slim, exhibiting a profound nervousness about potential association with down-market popular visual and sentimental culture where representational landscape art thrived. 9 Here, in the work of artists such as Eric Sloane, nineteenth-century conventions, concepts of nature, and the sentimental tug with which some avant-garde modernists have feared association persisted. 10 A characteristic insistence of this still-active worry about realism is evident in such recent comments about Thiebaud as “a realist to the core. . . . what rescues [Thiebaud’s paintings] . . . from sentimentality is the fact that he eliminates illusionistic, spatial perspectives.” 11 That representation risks both illusion and sentimentality is at the core of an anxiety, surfacing here with a reassurance that the artist has “rescued” himself from these presumed pitfalls that the critic cannot help conjuring.
The cakes and pies, the best known of Thiebaud’s work, are painted from his imagination and from long-ago memories of bakeries and diners. But he also paints from life. He points to the woman in the short skirt in his Two Seated Figures (1965). “Those are a lot like Rubens’ knees!” he says. He likes to say he steals from the best. The woman with the pinkish cupid-like knees is his favorite muse, his wife of 51 years, Betty Jean. Other pictures in the show reflect their life together: scenes from Laguna Beach, where they have a second home; the streetscapes of San Francisco, where he had a studio in the 1970s; a pair of beautiful drawings of their two sons as little boys. (Thiebaud has two daughters from an earlier marriage.) As we move through the galleries, we begin to collect a dozen or so museum visitors, who are surprised to discover the celebrated artist in the midst of his own show. They listen to every word of his mini-tutorial, and two take his picture with their cellphones.
Among the familiar Wayne Thiebaud paintings on display at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento—the still lifes of gumball machines and voluptuous bakery cakes, the brightly dressed, sober-faced figures, the San Francisco cityscapes with their daredevil inclines—was one mysterious picture, unlike anything else in the exhibition. It was a darkly comic painting of a man in a business suit hanging on for dear life from the limb of a leafless tree, his briefcase tossed on the grass below. A downtown city street loomed beyond the little park where this puzzling drama was playing out. Was the man trying to climb up or down? And why was he there? Thiebaud tries to explain: “Essentially, it’s about urban atmosphere, and the need to escape it.” But Man in Tree illustrates something else. Dated “1978-2010” on the wall label, it’s a testament to Thiebaud’s tireless pursuit of the challenge of painting—in this case, a 32-year run during which he started the picture, stopped and revisited it again and again, delving into its forms and colors, light and shadows, even when he felt as stuck as the man in the tree.
Around the corner is another still life, a conte crayon and charcoal depiction of heavy pitchers and an empty bowl on a table. If you didn’t know, you’d never guess that this academic drawing, almost like a Zurbaran, was by de Kooning, from the early 1920’s, when he was a student in the Netherlands. For a while in the mid-1950’s, Mr. Thiebaud lived in New York City, and he met de Kooning, Franz Kline, Barnett Newman and younger painters like Philip Pearlstein and Milton Resnick. Skeptical of the cracker-barrel chatter that sometimes passed for art criticism at artist hangouts like the Cedar Bar in Greenwich Village, he was still deeply impressed by the seriousness with which art was taken in New York. In particular, though he wasn’t painting abstractions, he became enamored of the approach of painters like Kline and de Kooning. Passing a Sargent portrait at the Met later in the day, he likens it to a Kline in its division of lights and darks.
By his own definition, Mr. Thiebaud’s paintings are caricatures. As a teen-ager, he was an animator for Walt Disney, and in the Army during World War II he was an illustrator for an Air Corps newspaper in Matherfield, Calif. Afterward, he did layouts and a comic strip for an in-house magazine of the Rexall Drug Company in Los Angeles. In the 1950’s, when he started to paint deli counters and slot machines, shop windows and platters of hors d’oeuvres, he retained his cartoonist’s sensibility, though he tailored it to a medium with new expressive and metaphoric possibilities.