merging from a golden childhood memory, Arizona-born artist Wayne Thiebaud’s marvellously coloured cakes, pies and other confectionery delights, arranged in a classic diner or cafeteria-style display, is a motif famously devised in 1961, at the onset of his career, and one he revisited over the course of nearly seven decades. These carefree objects and hallmarks of middle-class consumption evoke a sense of 1960s exuberance and prosperity. Thick with creamy impasto and seductive in their glossy presentation, the meticulously arranged compositions, often displayed in tidy rows, owe much to the artist’s early experience as a commercial illustrator and his preoccupation with order.
- Shadows & Colour
SymmetryThe use of grids to create orderly alignments features prominently in Thiebaud’s œuvre, and allows for charged negative space and breathing room.
PerspectiveThiebaud plays with and pushes the boundaries of perspective, skewing it so viewers peer down at the tops of the mouth-watering sweets.
Shadows & ColourVibrant, candy-coloured hues of yellows, oranges, and pinks, set against sharp pools of cornflower blue shadows, punctuate the composition.
TexturePainting in thick swathes of impasto that rise off the canvas, Thiebaud brilliantly mimics the frosted crests of freshly iced cakes, here crowned with a strawberry.
LightThe artist believed each painting should create its own light, and by outlining objects in rainbow colours he creates a radiant, halo-like effect, termed halation.
“I’m interested in foods generally which have been fooled with ritualistically, displays contrived and arranged in certain ways to tempt or seduce us,” he’s said. Much of this seduction comes from Thiebaud’s juxtaposition of colours to produce an internal, luminous energy, and his deliberately cropped configurations, devoid of any surrounding context and grounded by their neat, overly accented shadows. Encased Cakes, 2010/2011, presents some of these wondrous confections in a glass-fronted bakery case – decadent chocolate icing, smooth lemon curd and whipped buttercream are among the most tempting souvenirs of his imagination.