« Previous | Culture Monster Home | Next »

At 90, California artist Wayne Thiebaud has his latest opening -- in Bologna, Italy

March 4, 2011 |  6:45 am


Wayne Thiebaud, the dean of California painters at age 90, continues to get around.

WayneThiebaud2003LawrenceKHo It's not just because of the thousands of special license plates stamped with the image that Thiebaud designed for the California Arts Council -– a dash of seashore and sunshine that earns about $3 million a year for the state agency, more than half its budget.

Known especially for his still lifes of delectable sweets (such as "Four Cupcakes," pictured above), Thiebaud has a show opening Friday at Museo Morandi in Bologna, Italy, devoted to modernist still-life painter Giorgio Morandi.

The exhibition, which runs through Oct. 2, aims to underscore similarities and differences between Thiebaud, who grew up in Long Beach and lives in Sacramento, and the Bolognese Morandi, who died in 1964.

Museo Morandi's announcement of the exhibition hails Thiebaud for his work's "absence of both critique and celebration of American culture" and "an attention to painting as a discipline" that allows him to "depict the soul of these objects."

GiorgioMorandiStillLife1953MetMuseum In an interview with curator Alessia Masi published in the exhibition's catalog, Thiebaud cites Morandi as an influence because his work is stamped with "the wonder of intimacy and the love of long looking." Thiebaud, a 1994 National Medal of Arts recipient and last year an inductee into the California Hall of Fame, says that taking Morandi's achievements to heart  "cautions us painters against the idea of overdoing. It's all right to have drama, but not melodrama. So many good examples."


WayneThiebaudArtsLicensePlate California Hall of Fame names Wayne Thiebaud

Wayne Thiebaud's Pop art license plate design

Art review: "Giorgio Morandi: 1890-1964"


-- Mike Boehm

Upper photo: "Four Cupcakes" a 1971 painting by Wayne Thiebaud. Credit: Bologna Museum of Modern Art / Morandi Museum

Middle photo: Wayne Thiebaud in 2003 with one of his paintings. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Lower photo: "Still Life," a 1953 painting by Giorgio Morandi. Credit: The Phillips Collection, Washington / Metropolitan Museum of Art

Comments () | Archives (10)

Damn, didnt know he was a fellow native of the LBC. Along with Billie Jean King, Cameron Diaz, Nicholas Cage, and more pro baseball and football players than any other city. Also my boy landry fields tearing it up for the knicks. And of course Warren G, Snoop, Sublime, War, and Marilyn Horne.

While I love Thiebauds landscapes, both urban and rural, his cakes and ice creams leave me cold. There isnt the spirituality of Morandi's work, though the connection is obvious as far as presentation. His whites are wimpy, chalky, and lack spirituality, they are strictly material, but do play with color, but in isolated and none relational form.

He gets great respect, but as purpose is everything, I dont think it was always there. Painting just to paint is just a study, and that is what I feel looking at most of his work. But does pull it together and makes it musical in his landscapes. Weird.

I love him.

I thought you would comment. i really want to like his "still lifes" but they aren't. They dont use space or structure it musically or poetically. but the boy can paint. It just feels more like showing off. But when he composes concertos instead of etudes, they work wonderfuly. And are of nature and the west like Still, Pollock, Francis, Tobey, Park, Diebenkorn and others.

These just feel "conceptual" when the only true concept is god,( purpose and inner unified peace). They lack spirituality, which Morandi explored magnificently. I fear he hung around "art" people too much. He created a style, a signature for sale instead of exploring in is studies.

What’s wrong with a little cake? You said it yourself in a recent comment, Donald: “All culture is a link in a chain.”

Here is a chain of cultural cupcakes linked by colorful shadows of themselves. It’s more of a portrait of all of us than a still life. Sweet.

For one, they arent really very tasty looking, not exactly boutique cupcakes.
And two I dont rally care about subject matter, it simply has to be known and understood by the artists, and a visual language built from them. All art is abstraction, from something as a motif into a painting or whatever. It is using what is before you do explore our world. never selfish expression.

I simply prefer Morandi's bottle of wine, for obvious reasons. I am a drunk, or some would like to believe. Certainly do appreciate a good zinfandel or pinot noir.
Thiebaud is certainly one of the top painters around right now, perhaps the best, certainly better than Garibedians rather primitive, not in a good way, daubings. I like some of his, but Thiebauds landscapes are among the best of the genre in the later 20th century. I am a nature lover, as well as woman and wine. Cupcakes all in a line with no rhythmic pattern simply is kinda dull, one can appreciate the brushtrokes, but it does not build an equivalence .

OK, off to the Bacchanal. Got a new magazine to publish, or truly simply helping my wife. Check it out Cate, you might enjoy it.
First issue to be out by July. Got an article and lots of editing but all about Woman.
Yeahyeahyeah, I knnow, my spelling and grammar suck. Its a blog folks. Go have a sip of cognac it will all be good.

Remember, art and life is all about relationships, of line, color form and structure. Just as with music and poetry. And man and woman.
have a nice weekend, may go to the LB Poly CIF championship tomorrow at the Pond, our school. Rabbits Rule.

There are so few living artists worth liking, I'm going all in , no reservations. I'll save my nit- picking for the junk they usually promote here.

You are right. He probably is the best right now. That could be damning with faint praise as with Garabedian, but in Thiebaud's case not, he is legit. And though not so much with his cupcakes which lack musicality, he is one of the last of the true Modern's in his landscapes. Probably sells better, gotta make a living as todays crowd doesnt want anything too demanding. They are prosaicly Contemptorary in their isolation and aloofness.

I gotta be consistent, as with the young lemmings. And afterall, it is obviously just my opinion, which is certainly at least as good as the "critics"(snakeoilsalemen) on this blog. Good to see you are keeping up with William and my meanderings Cate, check out the magazine for sure. Mind, body and soul, sound familiar? No magazine like it. Certainly not Cosmo. Will be available in print by June 1. On Facebook too. She does it all from our lovely country cottage.

But any way you look at it, any show of Thiebaud's is worth going to. THAT is fact. Kids need to learn what real art is, its not like they are taught anything at the art factories.

Save the spiritual Watts Towers(Nuestro Pueblo), tear down the souless Ivories.

DF, those gorgeous boutique cupcakes are tasteless. They look good on the outside, but they're sugary cardboard in flavor. Thiebaud's cupcakes are homemade, with love.

I can't seem to keep up with you and William. Too slow-witted. It's like having a bad hare day, every day.

You keep changing the publication date of that magazine. June or July?

It will go to womens groups in June, July looks like available to the public. Like it?


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Explore the arts: See our interactive venue graphics


Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.