McNay Art Museum exhibition pays tribute to Californian artist Wayne Thiebaud, who died on December 25 at the age of 101


For curator René Paul Barilleaux, the exhibition “Wayne Thiebaud 100: Paintings, Prints and Drawings” at the McNay Art Museum captures the late artist’s passion for his work.

“On my tours, I say subjects are an excuse for making beautiful paintings,” said Barilleaux, McNay’s curatorial affairs manager. “He loves to paint on canvas – you can tell it’s something he loves, the act of painting. To me, you don’t see the work in the work. It just seems effortless.

Thiebaud died at his home in Sacramento, California on Christmas Day. He was 101 years old.

“Even at 101, he still spent most of his days in the studio, driven by, as he described it with his characteristic humility,” that almost neurotic fixation of trying to learn to paint, “” a statement said from Thiebaud’s gallery, Acquavella.

The traveling exhibition, which can be viewed until January 16 at the McNay, was curated by the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento to mark Thiebaud’s centenary. The McNay also features a companion exhibit exploring the friendship between him and fellow artist Beth Van Hoesen.

“Wayne Thiebaud 100” comprises 100 works, including the sumptuous desserts for which he was known. In his images of cakes, pies and ice cream, the paint is applied as if they were generously proportioned spoonfuls of frosting or meringue.

“What he’s so good at is taking mundane, everyday things and elevating them to that almost iconic or religious feel,” Barilleaux said. “He isolates something, he presents it in a very frontal, almost theatrical way, giving it this great importance, and imbues it with this quality that transcends everyday life.

This gives Thiebaud’s work a timeless quality, he said.

“It won’t look outdated, it won’t be associated with a particular decade or movement,” he said. “I think he’s a recognized force in the art world. He said he had overcome so many trends and so many artistic fashions and artistic trends and maintained his own vision until the very end.

The New York Times obituary for Thiebaud specifically noted the passion for his work that Barilleaux mentions when he guides visitors through the exhibit. The story ended with a quote from the artist: “It has never ceased to move and amaze me, the magic of what happens when you put a piece of paint next to it. another.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. | Twitter: @DeborahMartinFR


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