Wayne Thiebaud - 20th C. & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, November 14, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Description

    Please note that this lot is subject to a guarantee by a third party with a financial interest who will bid and may continue to bid on this lot.

  • Video

    Wayne Thiebaud, 'Candies', Lot 19

    20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 14 October

  • Provenance

    The Collection of Allan Stone (acquired directly from the artist)
    His sale, Sotheby's, New York, May 9, 2011, lot 27
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Executed just a few years after Wayne Thiebaud first displayed his paintings at his landmark exhibition at Allan Stone Gallery in 1962, Candies, 1965-1966 presages six decades spent rendering distinctive portrayals of quintessentially American confections and deli food. Situating the viewer as though a salivating child peeking through a bakeshop window, the work depicts three rows of intricately-decorated sweets lusciously painted against a minimal expanse. Reminiscent of the ruminative still-lifes and representations of urban life of Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin and Edward Hopper, Candies exemplifies Thiebaud’s remarkable faculty to simultaneously recall Old Master masterpieces and astutely record the contemporary American experience. The work testifies to the artist’s insightful ability to foreground the everyday and frequently overlooked, and embodies its creator’s extraordinary adroitness that was memorialized at his major exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art earlier this year.

    An early example of Thiebaud’s most characteristic subject matter, Candies invokes the art historical canon of still life painting, a centuries-old aesthetic genre encompassing the work of the artist’s idols, such as Chardin, Francisco de Zurbarán, Giorgio Morandi, and Paul Cézanne. The paintings of Thiebaud’s predecessors enlightened him as to still life’s potentiality to divulge what we see and consume, and—to a greater extent—what we are; indeed, the artist has commended Morandi’s paintings with teaching him “what it is to believe in painting as a way of life, to love its tattletale evidence of our humanness” (Wayne Thiebaud, “A Fellow Painter’s View of Giorgio Morandi,” The New York Times, November 15, 1981, online). In the same way that Chardin painted objects that were in his time very quotidian and are now considered interesting in their uncommonness, such as clay pipes and dead rabbits, Thiebaud painted in Candies a representation of the mass-produced, everyday sweets that were ubiquitous tokens of post-war America. The artist articulated: “Commonplace objects are constantly changing, and when I paint the ones I remember, I am like Chardin tattling on what we were” (A. LeGrace G. Benson and David H.R. Shearer, “Documents: An Interview with Wayne Thiebaud”, Leonardo, January 1969, p. 70).

    A staple of Thiebaud’s idiosyncratic approach, the impasto-rich surface of Candies strikes a dynamic tension between figuration and abstraction and two- and three-dimensionality. The viscous paint of the sweets’ decorations simultaneously draws attention to the artist’s hand—a quality revered by the Abstract Expressionists—and emulates the creamy, rich surface of its subject matter similarly to Cakes, 1963, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Underscoring painting’s function as a means of representational imitation, the thick application of paint creates a trompe l’oeil in which the depicted candies take on a slight three-dimensional form suggestive of that of objects in reality. “[Impasto is] in my case an experiment with what happens when the relationship between paint and subject matter come as close as I can possibly get them”, Thiebaud verbalized. “It is playing with reality...making an illusion which grows out of an exploration of the propensities of materials.” (Wayne Thiebaud, quoted in Wayne Thiebaud: 1958-1968, exh. cat., Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, Oakland, 2018, p. 150). In a visual pun encompassing the vibrant colors and sticky texture of its subject, the present work epitomizes Thiebaud’s alchemistic ability to transmute paint into the substances it portrays.

    Candies embodies the artist’s virtuosic faculty to capture the quotidian American experience in a portrayal of sweet treats. Depicting confections that can be found anywhere around the country—but only in this country—the painting further explores the ebullient nostalgia established in Cut Meringues, 1961, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Coalescing a European sophistication with a touch of Californian irony, Candies commemorates the everyday experience of our time. “We are hesitant to make our own life special…applaud or criticize what is especially us…But some years from now, our foodstuffs”, Thiebaud reflected, “will be quite different…I hope that [my painting] may allow us to see ourselves looking at ourselves” (Wayne Thiebaud, quoted in Wayne Thiebaud: 1958-1968, exh. cat., Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, Oakland, 2018, p. 149).

Property of a Private Collector



oil on board
8 x 10 in. (20.3 x 25.4 cm.)
Painted in 1965-1966.

$2,000,000 - 3,000,000 

Sold for $2,420,000

Contact Specialist

Amanda Lo Iacono
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1278

20th C. & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 14 November 2019