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In 1999, an edition of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities with illustrations by Wayne Thiebaud was published in hardcover by Arion Press.

"The book, because of its approach to the imaginative potentialities of cities, has been used by architects and artists to visualize how cities can be, their secret folds, where the human imagination is not necessarily limited by the laws of physics or the limitations of modern urban theory. It offers an alternative approach to thinking about cities, how they are formed and how they function."  via: Wikipedia

I can’t imagine a more perfect pairing of text and images.  Unfortunately, this version is out of print and difficult to find.

Instead I have collected a sampling of paintings by Wayne Thiebaud that portray the experience of architecture and cities.   To me these paintings render a vision that many travelers have attempted to capture when taking photographs on vacation.  Although obviously influenced by living in San Francisco, Thiebaud’s paintings don’t reveal so much a point of view or opinion but rather present the idea of 'city' in a way that reflects the emotions of encountering a city: awe, curiosity, anxiety, giddiness, joy, expectation, disorientation.  And then the questions: Where does this street go? What can you see from the top of that building?, followed by an anticipation of exploration: walking, biking, moving fast up and down, crosstown in cars, elevators, trains.

I think Wayne Thiebaud loves cities.



























































There is a traveling retrospective of Wayne Thiebauds work currently at the Pasadena Museum of California Art:

Tom Villa says:
“There are some images of the book here:”
Posted over 5 years ago
“The calvino/Thiebaud book sounds amazing! I love the fourth image. The steepness of the hill seems to eradicate gravity; that car looks like it might fly away at any moment.”
Posted over 5 years ago
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