The Sweet Splendor of Wayne Thiebaud’s Encased Cakes

The Sweet Splendor of Wayne Thiebaud’s Encased Cakes

Best known for his vibrant paintings of cakes, pies, and other confectionery, Wayne Thiebaud creates a captivating exploration into the American psyche. Encased Cakes, 2010/2011, highlights Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening auction on 14 November.
Best known for his vibrant paintings of cakes, pies, and other confectionery, Wayne Thiebaud creates a captivating exploration into the American psyche. Encased Cakes, 2010/2011, highlights Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening auction on 14 November.

E 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.

WAYNE THIEBAUD, Encased Cakes , 2 010/2011, $6,000,000–8,000,000

“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.

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