Twinka Thiebaud

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Twinka Thiebaud
Twinka Thiebaud wiki.jpg
Born Twinka Thiebaud
(1945-12-09) December 9, 1945 (age 70)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Writer, model
Years active 1962 to present
Children Sierra LeBaron Mellinger (b. 1979)

Twinka Thiebaud (December 9, 1945), is an American model who posed for many of the most important photographers of the 20th century. In the work of Judy Dater, one particular photo, Imogen and Twinka at Yosemite has become one of the most recognizable images caught by an American photographer. The photo was the first adult full frontal nude photograph published in Life magazine. The issue came out in 1976 as a Bicentennial Special Issue and was devoted to and called: Remarkable American Women 1776–1976.

"Because of her work in the 1970s...and in particular because of that one photograph of Imogen and Twinka...Dater has secured herself a place in photographic history."[1]

Another photo of Twinka by Judy Dater is featured in The Woman's Eye,[2] a book devoted to women photographers, and also served as the cover image. Anemone Hartocollis of The Harvard Crimson reviewed it and wrote: "These aren't demurring women about to extend or accept an invitation, they confront you with their sexuality. Some are beautiful, yet that's not what attracts attention. These women are provocative because their individuality and intellectuality aren't stifled by unctuous idealization. The photographs are precisely detailed, untouched, and of theatrical intensity. One, called "Twinka," is confusing. A frail, attractive girl wearing a diaphanous dress crouches at the base of a gnarled redwood, one arm spanning her breast to clutch a low branch. But her uncanny expression could never be elicited or tolerated by a male photographer: her eyes bore straight out, wide and threatening."[3]

Personal life[edit]

Twinka is the daughter of the American painter, Wayne Thiebaud and his wife Patricia Thiebaud, wed in 1943. Twinka was Wayne Thiebaud's first-born child.[4]

Born in Los Angeles, California on December 9, 1945, Twinka was raised in Los Angeles, New York City, and Sacramento, California where her father taught at the University of California, Davis. Upon her parents divorce in 1958, she moved with her mother and sisters to Marin County, California where she attended Redwood High School. Her younger brother was the art dealer and gallerist Paul Thiebaud.


Seeking to become an actress, Twinka returned to Los Angeles from Marin. For a number of years she lived with the aging novelist Henry Miller in his Pacific Palisades home acting as his cook and caretaker.[5]

At the same time, she worked as an artist's model, becoming a favorite of Robert Heinecken, Judy Dater, Mary Ellen Mark, Arnold Newman, Lucien Clergue, Eikoh Hosoe, Ralph Gibson and Arthur Tress. Many of the images taken of Twinka at this time are in international private collections and have been shown in galleries and museums around the world, for example, the Uffizi in Florence, Italy and in New York's Museum of Modern Art. She also posed for her father throughout her life. One canvas, painted when she was 18 called Supine Woman, sold at Sotheby's on November 12, 2009 for $1,818,500.[6] and is owned by Crystal Bridges Museum located in Benton, Arkansas.[7]

At home with Henry Miller, Twinka discovered that Henry was a great talker, regaling his almost nightly guests with tales of his past and his work. Listening, she began to keep a notebook of her version of what he said each evening. Showing Henry her notes, he expressed enthusiasm, introducing her to his own publisher, Noel Young at Capra Press. The resulting book, Reflections, was published in 1981.[8]

Today, living in Portland, Oregon, she has published an extensive rewrite of Reflections. Now called What Doncha Know? about Henry Miller, it was published by Eio Books in February 2011.[9]


  1. ^ Fallis, Greg. Judy Dater, Sunday Salon with Greg Fallis,
  2. ^ The Woman's Eye, Alfred A. Knopf, 1973, ISBN 0-394-48678-1
  3. ^ "''Twinka Thiebaud, 1970''". Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  4. ^ Oral history interview with Wayne Thiebaud, 2001 May 17–18, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
  5. ^ The Devil at Large: Erica Jong on Henry Miller by Erica Jong
  6. ^ Supine Woman,
  7. ^ Supine Woman Retrieved 10 July 2015
  8. ^ (0884961664 ISBN 978-0-88496-166-6) Henry Miller's letter to The Stroker, also see Review of "Reflections" published in Nice, 1981
  9. ^ * "What Doncha Know? about Henry Miller"


External links[edit]