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Three-day showing of Wayne Thiebaud paintings in Los Angeles

April 11, 2011 |  1:04 pm

Thiebaud Pies
Before they go up for sale at Sotheby's New York in May, 11 canvases and works on paper by Wayne Thiebaud are traveling to Northern and Southern California to go on public display and -- Thiebaud's specialty -- whet collectors' appetites. The highlights include assorted oil paintings of pies and cakes as well as a candy-colored pinball machine rendered by the artist, who has lived in the Bay Area for decades.

"These works will be a revelation to many people who have seen them in book reproductions but haven't seen them in the flesh," promises Anthony Grant, Sotheby's senior international contemporary art specialist, based in New York.

The artworks belonged to New York dealer Allan Stone, who gave Thiebaud his first solo show there in 1962 and died in 2006. According to New York Times critic Roberta Smith, Stone was "legendary in the New York art world for his obsessive collecting .... At one point he owned untold numbers of De Koonings and nearly 30 Bugatti automobiles."

Thiebaud.pinball Now Sotheby's is preparing to sell works from Stone's collection estimated together to be worth more than $30 million on May 9 in New York. The most valuable work from the group is expected to be a 1947 De Kooning, "Event in a  Barn," a busy abstraction with echoes of Gorky and Miró estimated at $5 million to $7 million.

The most valuable Thiebaud, of a total of 20 owned by Stone going up for sale, is expected to be Pies, 1961, featuring a bakery-style display of slices of pumpkin pie, cherry pie, lemon meringue and more. The oil on canvas (it's tempting to say meringue on canvas) is estimated to bring $2.5 million to $3.5 million.

But for now, anyway, the Thiebaud works can be seen for free. The Thiebauds will appear at the San Francisco Art Institute this Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon. They will then go on display at Sotheby's Los Angeles office, 9200 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 170, from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

-- Jori Finkel


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Images, from top: Wayne Thiebaud's Pies, 1961, oil on canvas, is expected to bring $2.5 million to $3.5 million at Sotheby's; Thiebaud's Four Pinball Machines (Study), 1962, oil on canvas, is expected to bring $700,000 to $900,000. Credit: Sotheby's