Thursday, August 25, 2011

Red Velvet Cup Cake, an homage to Thiebaud

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 2011
12 x 12'', painting # 197

In recent years, there has been a resurgence in the dessert industry with the Red Velvet Cake (click here). The redness is attributed when the red anthocyanin of cocoa is revealed during a reaction between acidic vinegar and buttermilk, although most recipes also include red food coloring. The Red Velvet cup cake in this painting is from the Cake Box here in Moncton. It is their best seller. In fact, if you want one, you have to go early during the day cause by mid afternoon there all gone. I had never heard of Red Velvet cake until last year. I ate some for the first time this past Easter, when we had lunch at the cafeteria of the Art Institute of Chicago.

This painting is a companion piece to ''Black Forest Cup Cake, an homage to Thiebaud'' that will be exhibited in The Still Life, an invitational group show at the Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacramento, California during the month of October. In this rendering, we have a better view of the book ''Delicious, The Life & Art of Wayne Thiebaud'', by Susan Goldman Rubin (published by Chronicle books -2007).

Wayne Thiebaud, Cakes, 1963
oil on canvas, 152.4 x 182.9 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Continuing Wayne Thiebaud's biography from my previous post -
As a teenager, he worked in the animation dept. of Walt Disney Studios. Early in his career he was employed a cartoonist and advertisement designer. During WW2, he enlisted and served as a war artist (1942-45). During the early 1950's, he earned a bachelor and masters degree in art and would go on to teach art until he retired at age 70 from a full-time position at the University of California, Davis. He would continue to teach studio art and art history on a part-time basis afterwards. One of his most celebrated student is Mel Ramos.

Thiebaud's first solo exhibition was at the Crocker Art Gallery in Sacramento. Between the years 1954 and 1957, he produced eleven educational films for which was awarded the Scholastic Art Prize in 1961. The greatest break of his career came in the spring of 1962. He had travelled to New York City in search of finding a commercial art gallery to represent him. After many rejections, the Allan Stone Gallery took him in and organized a solo exhibition entitled ''Wayne Thiebaud, Recent paintings''. To everyone's surprise, even himself, the show sold out. A piece was even purchased by the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). This exhibition was followed by his first solo museum show in San Francisco at the de Young Museum. Later that year he was included in the landmark group exhibition, New Realists, at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York.

He has remained active throughout his life and his work has received some of the highest honors, including major retrospectives. As gallery owner Allan Stone once said, ''His work is about celebrating the Joy of Living''.

Please visit this 2001 CBS documentary segment for a quick life retrospective.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Black Forest Cup Cake, an homage to Thiebaud

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 2011
12 x 14'', painting #196

I'm a usually a healthy eater, but I have to admit that I have a sweet tooth. I have a weakness for desserts, chocolate and ice cream. Whenever I pass in front of a glass front counter in a grocery store, a café outlet in a mall or the front window of a pâtisserie, I come to a complete standstill. If the goodies are behind glass, it makes them even more sinfully delicious. The same can be said about a glass dome plate. I found this glass cloche at Wicker Emporium just down the street from where I live. Directly across from that store is a small outlet called The Cake Box where you can specially order fancy cakes for any occasion. Their main business is selling decadent cup cakes which in recent years is back in vogue and all the rage. TV shows on the W Network, The Cup Cake Girls and Cup Cake Wars on the Food Network are cashing in the hype.  Keeping the imagery very local is the window sill from our kitchen window looking into our unimpressive backyard.

This painting is an homage to Wayne Thiebaud, an American painter born in 1920. He is closely associated with the Pop Art movement. But unlike many Pop Art artists, his artwork does not survey items of advertising, commercialism or popular culture. His artwork celebrates objects found in mass culture. He's better known for his depictions of food products found in production line settings such as markets, cafeteria and diners...... notably cakes, pies, hot dogs, ice cream and candies. His oil paintings of food are often executed in thick, buttery paint, using bright and often exaggerated colors. Paint on cakes for example are applied to give the appearance of thick frosting. Other still life paintings included lip sticks, paint cans, shoes and gum ball machines.

His body of work also studies portraits and landscapes. Like many artists, composition and use of color and light take center stage. Inspired by French painters Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard, he paints with colors that seem to create their own light. His use of mediums includes oil, watercolor, pastel, graphite and printmaking. Click HERE for this Google link for an colorful sample of his artwork. My next posting will feature more bio notes on Mr. Thiebaud. I am currently working on a companion piece featuring a Red Velvet Cup Cake.

The book that anchors this composition is entitled, ''Delicious, The Life & Art of Wayne Thiebaud'', by Susan Goldman Rubin and published by Chronicle books (2007).

Mr. Thiebaud has lived the majority of his life in Sacramento California and will be turning 91 this coming November. For the second year, I am fortunate enough to have been invited to take part in ''The Still Life'', an invitational group show being organized and hosted by the Elliott Fouts Gallery also located in Sacramento.This is the first of hopefully four paintings that I will be submitting. The exhibition will open on October 1 and runs until November 2, 2011.

Elliott Fouts Gallery
4749 J. Street Sacramento, California, USA , 95819
Phone (916) 736-1429