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Wayne White  Los Angeles, CA

'Honey Wheres My Learnin Books'
'Painting That Came to Life Only to Be Mocked—Forgotten'

* All images used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the artist.

About Wayne

After studying at Middle Tennessee State University, White went to New York City and worked as a cartoonist and illustrator for a number of publications including The East Village Eye, Raw, The New York Times, and The Village Voice.

In 1986 he worked on Pee Wee’s Playhouse where his work for his set and puppet designs won three Emmy awards; he also supplied a number of voices on the show. Other television credits include production and set design for Riders in the Sky, The Weird Al Show and Beakman’s World. He art directed two seminal music videos, Peter Gabriel’s “Big Time” in 1986, for which he won a Billboard award for best Art Direction in a music video, and in 1996 he designed all the Georges Méliès inspired sets for the award-winning video for the Smashing Pumpkins, “Tonight, Tonight”.

More recently, Wayne has had great success as a fine artist and has created paintings and public works that have been shown all over the world. His most successful works have been the world paintings featuring oversized, three-dimensional text painstakingly integrated into vintage landscape reproductions. The message of the paintings is often thought-provoking and almost always humorous, with Wayne pointing a finger at vanity, ego, and his memories of the South. Wayne has also received great praise for several public works he has created recently, including a successful show at Rice University where he built the world’s largest George Jones puppet head for a piece called ‘Big Lectric Fan To Keep Me Cool While I Sleep.’

Quick facts about Wayne

In 2009, Wayne’s life and career were chronicled in an incredible 382-page monograph, edited by Todd Oldham.
Wayne's life and work was documented in the 2012 film "Beauty is Embarrassing".

Recommended by our guest curators

Joyce Varvatos

Art advisor

"I’m always attracted to words in any context. And aesthetically I love the juxtaposition of the vintage underlying the contemporary."

Matt Wyatt

Founder/President of Rochester MFA

"I’ve had the pleasure of exhibiting Wayne’s work at the museum. He initially found success in television by on shows like Peewee’s Playhouse and others. One of the things people remember about him is the incredibly playful and almost psychedelic scenery he crafted. His style transcends his work on television and can still be seen in his paintings today. There is a very clear link between the two. His meticulously painted phrases are fun and provocative and bring joy to people. He is one of my favorites because he is the real deal. — There’s nothing snobby or arrogant about what he does on canvas. He’s not trying to play a joke or belittle the viewer… You don’t have to achieve some sort of philosophical epiphany in order to “get it”. It’s meant to be fun, light, and entertaining."

Liz Devlin

founder of FLUX. Boston

"How can you not love the work of Wayne White? He has been a huge inspiration to me as a curator. Wayne’s work emphasizes that there is room for humor in the art world and his large-scale installations are always incredibly imaginative. He truly knows how to activate a gallery space and make it enchanting."

Scott Eagle

Asst. Dir. / Professor ECU

"For those of us that are exhausted by the dry, arid wastelands of highbrow, elitist, snobbery, Wayne White is an absolute joy and inspiration. This extremely talented artist does so much more than word art. He seems to have lived a life, and developed a philosophy that breaks down the barriers between work, play and art. Check out his website where you can see sculptures, drawings, paintings, TV set design, music videos, etc. But, before you go, be sure to visit his artistaday page and watch the trailer for the multi-award-winning documentary about the life and work of Wayne White."

Aunny De La Rosa

Dir. Comm., deviantART

"Wayne White is hands down one of my all-time favorite artists – he was in essence, the artist of my youth. Because his subversive style had such a major impact on me so early on, it deeply impacted the development of my preferred art style as an adult, which leans heavily toward the surreal. Whether or not you’re familiar with his work at first glance, I’d venture to guess that his art is stored somewhere deep in your memory bank. For more, see the new documentary Beauty is Embarrassing."

Wayne appears in the following Top 10 lists







10 of 18 reactions displayed

"I’m starting my journey as an artist. I see AAD has an intensive art course.3D text in top of old lithography.Is it the subversive aspect of the act?Still processing."

"MY REVIEWpic a; a reflection of the prosperity and posterity of minds for the edification of self through diverse stages.pic b; broadcasting the circle of emotions of a natural neighborhood"

"Thought provoking and well rendered. These seem to be saying something about the homeless, or I am dreaming..."

"LOVE UH! add HUH HER!!!!!!!!!!"

"Love it all. Very playful and thought-provoking."

"Oddly sweet. I really enjoy the first piece."

"Mr. White proves that the secret to successful art direction as well as successful gimmicky fine art is to present something that is comfortably familiar to the viewer. Don't knock it. That's why Lennon-McCartney songs are so memorable."

"my point extactly "uh..." wtf is this?"

"Our artist has had a successful career in the entertainment media, having won three Emmy's. Ok, he now prints letters, slogans on old lithos. Not original, probably not even relevant. Certainly a jarring juxtaposition of values, of media, of an iconographic clash of styles!"

"These need more purple!"

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