Food For Thought: Wayne Thiebaud

With Instagram accounts and food blogs galore, we are constantly infiltrated with perfect latte art and well-constructed burgers as we scroll through our feeds. Saturdays we see what cocktails everyone is enjoying and Sundays we see what bottomless brunch is remedying said cocktails. Take a look up from your phone and take some time for a little art appreciation. What better way to appreciate art than to look at paintings of delectable desserts? Enter Wayne Thiebaud, whose mid-century works are almost as appetizing as a well-filtered bagel sandwich.

Thiebaud is famous for his confectionary works. His pieces are nostalgic, reminiscent of old advertisements or old-fashioned bakeries with classic cakes. His use of light reminds me of walking down a city street early in the morning, peering into the just-opening bakery shop window to see the pristine display of cakes and pastries.


Cakes, 1963

The subjects of his paintings are presented cleanly and often without much context. Pieces of pie sit on a table, or he shows a trio of identical gumball machines. Thiebaud’s paintings often mimic advertisements, so it’s not surprising how appealing his cakes and ice creams are in his work. I love the atmospheric 1950s-ness of this work. There is also a sense of spatial emptiness in his pieces. Often his work depicts a half-full bakery case, or a large table with only one slice of pie on it. The pastel colors are enticing. Thiebaud’s use of color makes his cakes seem like you could stick your knife and fork right into the painting (but please don’t actually do this to artwork, no matter how appetizing it may look).


Three Machines, 1963

Please enjoy an art break with these pieces! But also please enjoy the Silver Spork Instagram page. Art comes in many forms, after all.


Watermelon and Knife, 1989


Four Cupcakes, 1971

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Display Cakes, 1963

Post by Lucy Morel. Photos from museum websites and Wikipedia.