In Memoriam - Wayne Thiebaud: An Ode to Cake
"The whiteness of meringue becomes for me of great poetic preoccupation; it's like snow, like frost ... like ... purity.'' - Wayne Thiebaud
Wayne Thiebaud, who passed away on Christmas day at the age 101, was to cake what Giorgio Morandi was to bottles. Both artists kept painting the same objects again and again throughout their life. This enduring fascination with seemingly banal everyday objects was such that it can only be defined as devotion. One could argue that there is nothing banal about cake, but you follow.
There is something profoundly pure about this pictorial obsession, this meticulous, respectful and yet relentless engagement with the same subject. Like Thiebaud said (as always, look no further than primary sources to REALLY understand) it was a 'great poetic preoccupation' that gave life to pictures of sublime texture and luminous energy. His honest, contemplative style transcends realism and lacks the gimmicky side of Pop Art. In my view, like Morandi's, it exists in a space of its own.
Thiebaud reproduced cake like it had never been done before. He elevated it to the role of protagonist and, in doing so, he celebrated the beauty of the commonplace. Now you have seen and fallen in love with his luscious cake paintings, go look at his landscapes for, in their deceptive formal simplicity, they are just as mesmerising.
Pie Slice, 1991
Around the Cake, 1962
Neapolitan Meringue, 1986
Still Life, 1946
Still Life, 1951