American Master

Wayne Thiebaud at Aquavella Is The Daily Pic By Blake Gopnik

The Daily Pic: Before perfecting his confectionary colors, Wayne Thiebaud went brown.

(© Wayne Thiebaud / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY)

Wayne Thiebaud painted “Cigar Counter” in 1955, and he’s now lent it to a survey of his paintings at Aquavella Galleries in New York. It is pretty much the least typically Thiebaudian picture in the exhibition, which is what I like about it. Its Pollocky drips reveal Thiebaud’s roots in Abstract Expressionism, while its subject already announces his love of serried ranks of consumables, soon to take over his art. (I also like the notion of a painting that is of cigar boxes, when so many pictures have been painted onto them.) And here’s a thought: Does the candy-shop plenty of the Aquavella show, with its rows of delicious pictures, make the exhibition function as one giant Thiebaud? It’s all close to being fractal.

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