This is indeed good news. After a long hiatus, the Thiebaud Gallery (formerly on Columbus) has moved into the space that used to be the Campbell-Thiebaud Gallery. It's a beautiful, two story building with much more room for shows and a lovely garden out back. To celebrate the gallery opening, they will feature recent still life compositions of food by Wayne Thiebaud, an on-going theme in his decades long career. According to the press release, all of the works in the show were painted from memory. The sketchbook drawings are included to demonstrate how compositional exploration from memory allows such a richness of possibilities over the years. "This signature style of Thiebaud's paint handling - the rich, smooth dragging of paint across a surface or around a shape in a way that both proclaims the luscious texture of oils and often transforms itself into the very material being depicted, from frosting or whipped cream to metal - is referred to by the artist as "object transference." Its origins can be traced not just to Morandi but also Thiebaud's interest in the bravura effects of such artists as Joaquin Sorolla, clearly apparent in the transitional Beach Boys of 1959, the work of Willem de Kooning, and the Bay Area Figurative painters Richard Diebenkorn and David Park.
"Thiebaud's language can be decidedly low-key and limited in its formal agendas, but even then, his objects say a lot about the people who make them and enjoy them. They also comment on the abundance that is part of American society and the longing or desires that go with it: desserts lined up in rows stretching far into the distance like trees in a landscape but held separate from the viewer by the glass of window or case. The tone, however, is celebratory, not negative.
For Thiebaud, "[My subject matter] was a genuine sort of experience that came out of my life, particularly the American world in which I was privileged to be. It just seemed to be the most genuine thing which I had done."
"Commonplace objects are constantly changing, and when I paint the ones I remember I am like Chardin tattling on what we were. The pies, for example, we now see are not going to be around forever. We are merely used to the idea that things do not change." In an time of change and uncertainty, it's a joy to revisit these delicious confections and to honor the artist who made - and still makes paintings that celebrate abundance. And afterwards, you can walk down the street to Stella's and have a delicious pastry and celebrate another facet of San Francisco's diverse cultures.
Steven A Nash, in "Wayne Thiebaud: A Paintings Retrospective"
WAYNE THIEBAUD: CONFECTION MEMORIES at 645 Chestnut Street (Between Columbus and Mason)
April 1 through Saturday, June 27th.