Friday, July 03, 2009

Arty Farty Friday ~ Wayne Thiebaud - No Tortured Soul.

Wayne Thiebaud. I'm not sure how widely known this artist is - I was vaguely aware of his name but knew nothing about his art. I'm pleased to discover that he's a painter who doesn't fit that all too familiar "tortured soul" pattern that artists can slip into so easily. His late art dealer, Allan Stone, said this about him:
"I have had the pleasure of friendship with a complex and talented man, a terrific teacher and cook, the best raconteur in the west with a spin serve, and a great painter whose magical touch is exceeded only by his genuine modesty and humility. Thiebaud's dedication to painting and his pursuit of excellence inspire all who are lucky enough to come in contact with him. He is a very special man." (See here)

He was born in Mesa, Arizona on 15 November 1920, at 1am (Astrodatabank)

Thiebaud's conjoined Sun/Mercury in Scorpio are flanked on one side (via harmonious sextile:60*)by Jupiter/Saturn in detail oriented, disciplined Virgo. On the other side, again via sextile by Moon/Mars in business-led, common sense Capricorn. The other glyph in Capricorn is Black Moon Lilith - the Moon's apogee (farthest point from the Earth). When close to the Moon in a natal chart this could have some significance, but without knowing much about the man's personal life, it's not possible to make much use of the information in this instance. He certainly doesn't appear to be lacking in a female side! Virgo is his rising sign, adding emphasis to his attention to detail and precise style.

As indicated in the excerpt below, Thiebaud, now 89, seems to be a well balanced individual. I'd like to relate that to the balancing effect of planets in Virgo and Capricorn (both solid reliable Earth signs) on either side of his Sun/Mercury in Scorpio - a sign that has been known to be over-emotional, intense and with a tendency to paranoia. These traits are sweetly (no pun intended) calmed and balanced in Thiebaud's chart.

In a New York Times article reviewing Susan Goldman Rubin's book for children, "Delicious: the Life and Art of Wayne Thiebaud", Sarah Boxer writes that it....
" the story of a happy man known for his happy paintings of cakes and pies. It turns out he also has many happy things to say about painting. For example: “I love art history” and “I was a spoiled child. I had a great life, so about the only thing I can do is to paint happy pictures.”

The story goes steadily from subject to verb, rung to rung, up the ladder of life and good fortune. “Wayne grew up in the American West,” we learn. “His mother, Alice, was a wonderful cook and baker.” His Uncle Jess was a cartoonist. When he was a kid, he wanted to be a cartoonist too, and he did become one for a while.

Events that other people might have found trying turn out to be nothing more than fine challenges: “Wayne broke his back playing football in his junior year of high school,” and “kept himself busy by drawing.” While still in school he got a job in the animation department at Walt Disney Studios, where he drew Goofy, Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket. During World War II, Thiebaud wanted to be a pilot, but instead became an Army artist, creating a comic strip called “Aleck.”

After the war, when his career as a cartoonist didn’t pan out, he became an art director for the Rexall Drug Company and studied Michelangelo and Rubens. He kept drawing: “The more I drew, the more I improved.” .......................

By the 1960s Thiebaud got rid of the abstract expressionist glaze and replaced it with frosting — thick, slick strokes. He also found his subject: pies, candy and cakes. “Cakes, they are glorious, they are like toys.” His first painting of a row of pies made him laugh. But those paintings did not sell. A critic called him “the hungriest artist in California.” So Thiebaud looked for a gallery in New York. “His last stop” — isn’t it always the last stop? — “late one afternoon was the Allan Stone Gallery.” He and Stone became friends, and in April 1962 Thiebaud got a one-man show. Everything sold. And the rest is art history. Landscapes followed lollipops and portraits followed popsicles.
See here)

His most recognisable paintings are of foodstuffs and everyday items such as ties, lipsticks, tins of paint. As an image on a computer screen these may look unimpressive, but I understand that for many of them, it's the texture which adds to the effect - a thick, almost engraved layer of paint, smooth and creamy at times, carved and angular elsewhere. Other paintings of (for example) rows of cake slices throw focus upon the geometric pattern which emerges.

There are examples on-line of his figure painting too - mainly females (examples above), and landscapes showing what seems to be a favourite theme of his - road systems or river courses. I noticed in several of these a tendency to choose scenes with interesting sharp descending angles in them - views of his hilly San Francisco surroundings. Geometry comes to the fore again - patterns of rows of cakes, patterns of angled roads - I detect the influence of Virgo and of Capricorn!


Wisewebwoman said...

Thanks for the intro to him, T, how delicious his talent is and a change from the tortured souls. I have been sending out Van Gogh cards and discussing him with an artist friend so this was a blessed change!

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ It's good to know that there are some who break the mould, in't it?