Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Wayne Thiebaud (or, The allure of tiny, tiny cakes)

I was catching up on Tyler Green's indispensable modern art blog and learned that a week ago today was the 90th birthday of painter Wayne Thiebaud. Widely celebrated in the art world as a painter and key member of the Pop Art movement, his name isn't known to the general public who may know Warhol or Lichtenstein. In the midst of a pretty bombastic art movement - Lichtenstein's exploding missiles and dramatic exclamations, Warhol's bright portraits, gigantic Rosenquist murals - Thiebaud became famous for quiet celebrations of desserts, intricate groups of cakes and pies that recalled Precisionism. He's still at it too. This week he's on the cover of the New Yorker. Compared to a similar work from 1963, he's still in command of the canvas, though with a shakier hand which reminds me of the later strips of Charles Schulz. Hopefully we will have more years of tiny cakes to come.

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