LOS ANGELES ( Associated Press) – Artist Wayne Thibault, whose luscious, colorful paintings of pastries and San Francisco’s cityscapes combine sensuality, nostalgia and a hint of melancholy, has died. He was 101 years old.
His death was confirmed in a Sunday statement by his Acquavella gallery., which does not say where and when Thibault died.
“Even at 101, he still spent most of his days in the studio, driven by, as he described with his characteristic humility,“ this almost neurotic fixation of trying to learn to paint, ”the gallery said in a statement.
Dean of California Artists, Thibault began his early career as a Disney animator, sign artist, and advertising artist.
While some considered his hot dogs, bakery counters, gum machines, and hard candies to be pop art samples, Thibault never considered himself like Andy Warhol, nor did he treat his subjects with the irony advocated by pop. movement. …
“Of course you are grateful when someone calls you something,” he once said. “But I never felt like a part of it. I have to say I never really liked pop art. ”
According to many critics, the real theme was paint and the act of painting itself: the shimmering color and the sensual texture of the thick paint.
He applied paint so hard that he often carved his signature into the painting instead of applying it with a brush.
“Oil paint looks like a meringue,” said Marla Prater, curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, who helped organize a 2001 retrospective of the artist’s work. “And the cakes have a great feeling of texture with icing. You just want to come closer and lick him. ”
Many of his painted images were outlined in neon pink and blue, making objects appear to glow. The shadows were often deep blue.
“It’s fun, while a lot of contemporary art is gripped by anxiety,” Prater told The Associated Press in 2001.
Thibault told PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer in 2000 that the topic of food was “funny and humorous, and I think it’s dangerous in the art world.” It’s a world that takes itself very seriously, and of course it’s a serious undertaking, but I think there is also room for wit and humor, because humor gives us, I think, a sense of perspective. ”
Chewing gum ball machines were a favorite topic, he said, because “the big round globe is so beautiful and it really is a kind of orchestration of circles of all kinds. But I think it is also very sensual and offers wonderful possibilities for drawing something like, almost like a bunch of flowers. ”
In 2004, a New York Times writer praised his “lopsided vision of modern consumerism” and said, “No one has done more to revive the weary old genre of still life in the past half century than Mr. Thibault with his industrial style paintings. regulated food “.
Thibault told Hour of News that he prefers to call himself an artist rather than an artist, because “it’s like a priest who calls himself a saint. Maybe it’s too early, or he’s not the one who decides that … Being an artist, I think, is very rare. ”
Along with sensuality, there was sometimes emptiness and melancholy, reminiscent of Edward Hopper. He compared this feeling to the “bright pathos” of a circus clown.
In the landscape, his most famous object was the city of San Francisco, whose steep hills he portrayed in a fantastic manner, with impressive angles and harsh shadows.
“Initially, I painted right on the streets, trying to get some kind of drama that I felt in the city and its dizzy (dizzy) nature,” he told NewsHour.
“But it didn’t seem to work … Reality is one thing, and fantasy or its exploration is another.”
Thibault was born in Mesa, Arizona in 1920 and raised in Sacramento, California. He started out as an animator for Walt Disney and later worked as a poster designer and commercial artist in California and New York before becoming an artist.
He was also a longtime professor at the University of California, Davis. He officially retired in 1991 but continued to teach one class a year.
Former Associated Press writer Polly Anderson provided biographical information for this report.