Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Image of Gumball Machine 19347


Wayne Thiebaud (Mesa, Arizona, 11/15/1920 - )


Gumball Machine

Creation Date



late 20th century


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

Object Type


Creation Place

North America, United States

Medium and Support

five-color linocut on paper

Credit Line

Museum Purchase, Barbara Cooney Porter Fund


This artwork may be under copyright. For further information, please consult the Museum’s Copyright Terms and Conditions.

Accession Number

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.

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