Treat yourself to a non-fattening way to enjoy all the cakes, pies, and goodies packed into the Morgan’s show, Wayne Thiebaud: Draftsman, on display a through September 23.
As soon as you enter, you’ll see a wall of masterful drawings of the desserts that made Thiebaud famous – luscious candy apples, cupcakes, and candy lightly sketched and drawn in watercolor in a way that makes them shimmer and glow.
The Morgan’s show is the first to turn a spotlight on Thiebuad’s works on paper, where he experimented and played.
Each section of the show illuminates how he mixed commercial art, popular culture, Old Masters techniques, and abstraction to create a unique, colorful, and joyful body of work.
Taking leave of sunny California in the Sixties, Thiebaud took his sketchbook to New York and embedded himself among New York abstractionists who were just starting to claim their place on the world stage.
He always loved pop culture, storefronts, and cartooning the lighter side of life. When confronted with the grit and angst of the New York abstractionists, he tried giving an AE spin to the storefront windows and rows of food that entertained him as he walked the streets of New York.
But with advice from the most passionate painters at The Cedar Tavern, he was encouraged to paint what he loved and what he knew.
Taking that advice, he used traditional techniques and a deft hand to create works that people wanted the minute they saw them. His first New York City exhibition catapulted him to instant recognition. Every painting sold.
During the Seventies, he began to teach, using old masters drawing techniques as a grounding for his students – an approach that he himself used every time he embarked upon a new subject.
The show has side-by-side examples of an ice-cream cone meticulously rendered in cross-hatch technique with more gestural pen-and-ink and watercolors of the same.
The show also includes an impressive wall of streetscape drawings inspired by the up-and-down streets of San Francisco. The cityscape resembles tectonic plates shifting beneath finely rendered blocks of architecture.
Listen to a recollection on how Franz Kline’s admonishment to a young artist turned into a legacy: