Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wayne Thiebaud

Wayne Thiebaud is best known for his Pop Art images of cakes and pies sitting in a bakery shop display. The retrospective of his work on view this summer at the Loveland Museum and Gallery in Loveland, Colorado, includes those paintings along with other still-lifes, charcoal sketches, figures and abstract landscapes. We were fortunate to be able to see it last Friday. The exhibit even has its own Facebook page. There's a 60-minute interview that you can watch in a room alongside the exhibit. Thiebaud is animated and articulate (at 88, he still plays tennis and teaches) and his sense of humor is as keen as his knowledge of art history.

Thiebaud is also known for using thick layers of paint (like frosting on a cake) and "halation," which is a line of bright color that our stereoscopic vision causes us to see on the edges of a subject in bright light or strong sunlight.

These works are obviously not plein air, but he doesn't work from photos.

"Photography takes the world all together as a source...Painting starts with nothing and has to get's a world of its own. So if you are trying to mix the two together, it's probably okay if you're Degas, who used photographs, but, how deeply he was trained first to be able to use those options. If you start copying photographs, you're going to always be on this flat surface, and it's so easy to tell when something is photographically based. You can't lie about it.

"I just spend a lot of time drawing from objects and people and things, and then, like reading a visual dictionary, you develop tools."
- Wayne Thiebaud

The exhibit will be at the Loveland Museum through August 16.


Michael Chesley Johnson said...

I love his work. Thanks for posting this piece. So often all we see are the cakes and desserts and the city scenes and not these equally interesting pieces!

Judsons Art Outfitters said...

Yes! We were impressed by the variety. His early drawings were very skilled & sensitive, and over the years he used practically every medium...acrylics, watercolor, gouache, pastel and lithograph as well as oils. In the reproductions you see in print, his paintings look so flat, but they're rich in texture and subtle color variations (as well as the bright outlines). One thing that's funny when you see a lot of his work in one place is how many paintings have a line going directly out one of the corners... sometimes two corners!