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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