Wayne Thiebaud’s Postmodern Food Art will Satisfy your Sweet Tooth

While artist Wayne Thiebaud doesn’t consider his work to be Pop Art. However, his postmodern food art has a similar presence to the graphic works of Lichtenstein and Warhol. Bubblegum colors pop off of canvases in geometric blocks. Features are exaggerated and simplified. Primarily focusing on the eateries and foodstuffs that people clamor for, his brand of still life is a far cry from the photorealistic content of the old masters. Before the Campbell’s Soup Cans became an icon, it was Thiebaud who was paving the way for postmodern food art.

 

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‘Four Ice Cream Cones’ by Wayne Thiebaud. Over the course of his career, Thiebaud has covered a wide variety of subject matter. However, he is most famous for his oil paintings featuring confections of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Image courtesy of © rocor.

Drawing inspiration from abstract expressionists and Baroque realists alike, Thiebaud’s style is poignant and unique. Interpreted by some as critical commentary on consumer culture and others as nostalgic reveries, his food centric artwork hones in on the familiar rather than the glamorous. There are no fine linens or brass carafes in sight. Instead, there’s a focus on the likes of the diners, cafeterias, and other public watering holes.

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‘Cherry Stand’, from the series ‘Delight’ by Wayne Thiebaud. Rather than focusing on the exotic or unusual, Thiebaud’s work fixes on everyday locations and objects. Image courtesy of © rocor.

Subject matter isn’t the only thing that draws Thiebaud’s collection together. The artist has a fascination with repetition and pattern. Through his work, he reveals the attractiveness of cylindrical cakes on display at a grocery store. Tantalizing pie slices behind restaurant glass transform from tasty treats to aesthetically appealing icons.

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‘Cakes, 1963’ by Wayne Thiebaud. The dark circular shadows in this piece contrast with the lighter cakes, creating visual tension that keeps viewers engaged. Image sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

Spellbinding tones and hues keep viewer’s eyes dodging across compositions. The artists once described his colors as “fighting” one another. Whether it’s a two toned food lithograph or an oil painting of two hundred tints, his works combat and compliment one another masterfully.

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‘Neapolitan Pie’, by Wayne Thiebaud. Note the use of blues, pinks, and purples intermingling with one another in the shadow of the pie. Image courtesy of © rocor.

It’s easy to write off everyday routines and rituals as well as the objects we interact with daily. It’s easy to overlook food as little more than a necessity, taking for granted the array of flavors and feelings they have to offer us. Thiebaud’s decadent postmodern food art does something beyond displaying the novelties that comfort us most. Through striking colors and bold shapes, he forces us to acknowledge his subjects as something more than consumables. Instead, objects as humble as a slice of pie become works of beauty.

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‘Salads, Sandwiches and Desserts, 1962’ by Wayne Thiebaud. Heavy use of repetition is one of the artist’s trademark stylistic attributes. Image courtesy of © rocor.
Influential Food Artist of the Week

Through our influential food artist segment, we aim to highlight fascinating stories and works that defy norms and challenge audiences on what food can mean to us. Are you tired with flashy passing trends and seeking true creative inspiration? From classical painters and modern innovators, Phoode explores what happens when food collides with artistic minds. CLICK ON