Thiebaud’s paintings of cakes, pinball machines, and cityscapes have fetched up to $20 million, and the painter who passed away on Christmas Day, continued to lecture at UC Davis well past the age of 100.
The celebrated paintings of artist Wayne Thiebaud have been reproduced in homes across California for decades, and you’ll find an original or two in the SFMOMA or the de Young. But those prized original paintings of cakes, hilly streets, and everyday objects have sold for more than $19 million as recently as last year. Thiebaud was considered the originator of the Pop art genre, and also continue to lecture as a professor emeritus at UC Davis well past the age of 100. But Thiebaud died in his Sacramento home on Christmas Day, according to CNN. He was 101.
We join the art world in mourning the loss of dear friend and esteemed artist Wayne Thiebaud. pic.twitter.com/ZyhPM1aShS— SFMOMA (@SFMOMA) December 27, 2021
“We have lost a legendary artist as well as a very close, kind, and generous friend with the passing of Wayne Thiebaud,” SFMOMA director Neal Benezra said in a statement to the Chronicle. “Wayne has for so long held a beloved place in our hearts and our galleries. He will be deeply missed by us all.”
RIP wayne thiebaud, his renderings of san francisco cityscapes always had such an effect on me pic.twitter.com/PbEMn66O62— Auld Sang Lyne (@ElSangito) December 26, 2021
Thiebaud was born in 1920 in Mesa, Arizona, but spent most of his life in California. His first art job was as an animator for Walt Disney Studios (he was fired after three months for “participating in union activities”), and would go on to paint signs for Sears, Roebuck and Company. He served in the Air Force during World War II, where his commanding officer was… Ronald Reagan! But it was the 1950s when Thiebaud truly emerged as a great American painter, painting common items like lipstick, shoes, and cases full of desserts, and Thiebaud would be credited with starting the Pop art movement.
The SF Bay Area just lost another great artist, Wayne Thiebaud. I took this photo of him with cake in 2016 because of his renown for luscious paintings of desserts. See the NY Times obit. pic.twitter.com/nanRS4t5zi— Carl Landauer (@CarlLandauer) December 26, 2021
“Of course, you’re thankful when anyone ever calls you anything,” he once said, according to the Chronicle. “But I never felt much a part of it. I must say I never really liked Pop art very much.”
As San Franciscans, we’ll particularly remember Thibaud’s paintings of the streets of San Francisco. But anyone who enjoys art will remember the colorful flair he brought to depictions of everyday items.
Beloved American painter Wayne Thiebaud died on Saturday at 101 years old. He was a lover of comic strips, cartoons and clowns in his early years and his lush paintings of everyday life is currently the subject of a traveling retrospective. https://t.co/f8c9wpYLun— NPR (@NPR) December 27, 2021
“From gumball machines to the landscapes of San Francisco, he transformed everyday life into an iconic statement of color and form,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “Thiebaud was the pride of California, and a great gift to the world."
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Image: De Young Museum via Wikimedia Commons, Fair Use