Our cover this month, Encased Cakes by Wayne Thiebaud, sold for $8,464,800 at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction on Nov. 14, 2019 in New York City. The sale took the cake (pun intended), breaking Thiebaud’s previous record price of $6.3 million for a work sold at auction.
Best known for his Pop Art depictions of cakes and other bakery confections, Thiebaud differs from his contemporaries, such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, in that he aspired to celebrate, rather than critique, society. In fact, some beg to differ that Thiebaud is a Pop artist in the first place. In an aptly titled Smithsonian Magazine article from February 2011, “Wayne Thiebaud Is Not a Pop Artist,” the author explains that “The cylindrical cakes and cones of ice cream [painted by Thiebaud] owed more to such masters of the still life as the 18th-century French painter Chardin, or the 20th-century Italian Giorgio Morandi, as critics have pointed out, than to the art trends of the time.” That thought, supported by the fact that Thiebaud’s iconic cakes and sweets predate the Pop Art movement, may indicate that, if anything, his work influenced the start of the movement.
What’s more, at the young age of 99, Thiebaud has just unveiled a new exhibit at the Paul Thiebaud gallery in San Francisco—“Wayne Thiebaud: Clowns”—running through the end of March 2020. The collection on view is, you guessed it, of clown paintings.
The articles in this month’s The Modern Practice Committee Report aim to help you (and your practice) remain masters of the craft for years to come, just like Thiebaud.