Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wayne Thiebaud Tribute Cake Slice

Savannah Schroll Guz, "Wayne Thiebaud
Tribute Cake Slice", 2011 (art pin)

 Yesterday, I finished a polymer clay piece that I'd been working on for a few days in between other projects and lecture prep. The work is a tribute to the painter Wayne Thiebaud, whose stunning images of cakes, pies, and candy have become such an essential part of mid-century Modernism.

My studio arts professor, Sandy (again, short for Alexander), used to talk about Thiebaud's work during lectures, and may--although I am not 100% sure of this--have known him. I am uncertain of this only because, even though my mind vaguely (and perhaps incorrectly) remembers a conversation in which Sandy mentioned meeting him, the two artists were on opposite coasts. Moreover, Sandy is now my father's age (late 60s/early 70s) while Mr. Thiebaud is 90, so it may be unlikely they had any significant contact. Still, Thiebaud's paintings came up in both Sandy's classes and in my art history classes.

Even when I was young--long before college...even long before high school--I used to sit on our brown plaid couch with my Mom's college text, H.H. Arnasons' History of Modern Art (which has been edited three or four times by various curators and art historians, one of them Marla Prather, for whom I worked as an intern when I was at the National Gallery in 1996). While paging through it, I used to stop and wonder over the plates of Thiebaud paintings. The application of paint made them appear as if they were actually edible. Forget about their three-dimensional quality, they looked positively confectionery. Look at their gorgeousness...and there's more of their amazingness here. They also recall department store lunch counters and the cases in bakeries, both of which have a great deal of nostalgia now that they are largely extinct in American culture (there are a few exceptions, of's one I know well. Still, in terms of lunch counters, I rely on stories from my mother's childhood to remind me of what it was like to go shopping and be able to eat lunch all in the same place.

Yesterday evening, after I'd listed the cake slice in my art shop, someone very closely associated with Mr. Thiebaud purchased it. As you might imagine, I am totally over the moon about it! I'll be packing it up this morning, so it can be on its way to its new home. It's so fantastic to have one of my little works be enjoyed by someone so closely associated with an artist I've revered for such a long time.  It was a very good day indeed.

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