Art gifts

Thiebaud remembers: California, the art world is crying for a giant


The backlash continued to flow from California and the art world after Wayne Thiebaud’s death.

The luminary artist whose iconic works, from brightly colored clothing to city streets and winding landscapes, celebrated the everyday and who dedicated his life to teaching a new generation of artists died on Christmas Day in his home of Sacramento. Thiébaud was 101 years old.

Thiebaud was “a great gift to the world,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement Sunday evening.

“From gumball machines to the landscapes of San Francisco, he turned everyday life into an iconic statement of color and form…. A devoted Sacramentian, Wayne gave back to the Californian people, ”the governor wrote. “Wayne Thiebaud was the pride of California and a great gift to the world.”

At the University of California at Davis, Thiebaud’s educational home for over 40 years, and where his multigenerational impact extends from the walls of his galleries to the legion of artists he has taught, mentored and influenced over the decades the loss has been profound.

“The communities at the University of California at Davis are deeply saddened by the death of artist and professor emeritus Wayne Thiebaud on December 25 at the age of 101,” the UC Davis statement read. “Her brilliance, talent, warmth and generosity leave a legacy that will live on and enrich our campus and the world for generations to come. “

UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May spoke of Thiebaud’s “deep and lasting influence on our university.”

“But his legacy transcends UC Davis,” May said. “He was loved as an artist, teacher, mentor, father, grandfather, philanthropist and community leader. He was a brilliant artist and his work will forever encourage us to see our world in a more textured light, where common objects can reach deep and iconic heights.

Rachel Teagle, founding director of the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis, which houses 90 of Thiebaud’s works, many of which were donated by the artist, highlighted Thiebaud’s contributions to the classroom and her love of l ‘education.

Teagle announced the donation of 24 works by Thiebaud from his foundation to the university’s fine arts collection at a gala in November at Manetti Shrem to honor the artist and the foundation on the eve of Thiebaud’s 101st birthday .

“Wayne Thiebaud believed that teaching and learning are the most important activities in life. He enjoyed reading, chatting and watching with his students, ”Teagle said in a statement provided by the university. “Painting is a team sport,” he liked to say. “And for his many longtime students, learning with Wayne has been a great honor. “

The influential artforum journal posted in a tweet on Sunday at the death of the master, “At a time when many of his contemporaries appropriated everyday objects and mass images to skewer the American dream, Thiebaud stood out by wrapping it, crafting from memory the evocations of the nostalgia for childhood.

With these images, pies, pastries and gumballs, a lonely cup of coffee or a smoking cigar, Thiebaud “has succeeded in the elusive task of creating a new visual species, a new (painted) world”, the historian of art, critic and writer. Julia Friedman wrote for the 2000 career “Wayne Thiebaud 100: Paintings, Prints and Drawings” (Granada).

For Jerry Saltz, Pulitzer Prize-winning senior art critic at New York Magazine, Thiebaud was a “painter of the sublime sublime,” he said. posted on Twitter Monday. “Hallucinatory surfaces, supernatural perceptual intelligence, thick accumulations of rich colors, harsh light, brightness, total control and Hopperesque suppression that made you merge with work. “

Thiebaud’s gift for capturing the everyday has also greatly contributed to Sacramento’s visual lexicon. The simplicity of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s black and orange SMUD logo and the large-scale mosaic, “Water City” (1959) that adorns the utility’s headquarters, are both creations of Thiebaud.

“We are saddened by the loss of an icon” SMUD posted on Twitter. “Sir. Thiebaud was a giant in Sacramento and in the art world, and we were honored that he designed the SMUD logo and the iconic facade of our head office. We join the community in celebrating his legacy .

The Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, which hosted in 2020 a major retrospective of Thiebaud’s work marking his centenary, and his first solo exhibition in 1951, recalled “a great talent who left an indelible legacy. This extraordinary member of our community will be missed.

Seoul-based art writer Andrew Russeth offered this poignant memory via Twitter:

“The ice cream never melts, the cakes are fresh from the oven, and the world is bathed in light,” Russeth wrote. “The day is young, but there are shadows creeping in. RIP, the great Wayne Thiebaud.”

Darrell Smith covers the courts and California news for The Sacramento Bee. He joined The Bee in 2006 and previously worked for newspapers in Palm Springs, Colorado Springs, Colorado and Marysville. Originally from the Sacramento Valley, Smith was born and raised at Beale Air Force Base near Marysville.