Saturday, June 16, 2012

Irreverent humor at the SJMA, Thiebaud at Berggruen

Various cakes. 1991

The artist that Robert Hughes called "the poet of pastry" and the rest of us call an Old Master is currently exhibiting at the Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco. "Thiebaud is still thought of by many people as a Pop artist--whatever that name now means. Actually, in relation to his work, it doesn't mean much: only that he was and presumably still is intrigued and delighted by the sight of multiple-produced American food. Not so much the package (like the soup can) as the soup itself, or for that matter the sandwich, the cake or the slice of pie, sitting there in virginal garishness, the coconut icing soft and fluffy as a baby angel's wingpits, under the fluorescent tubes in the glass diner case."


"The surface is dense, creamy and unctuous, yet it never looks dragged or displays the laborious appearance of palette-knife work. It is painted all the way, and it invariably looks as though it was put on alla prima, without glazing or reworking.
You see what he's aiming for: the sort of one-shot, spot-on accuracy that Manet displayed when he painted his single stalk of asparagus with what looks like a single brushstroke. Except that Thiebaud has a way of punching up the effect with sharp lines and rainbow profiles of complementary color, a green or a purple, that pulse like halos and throw the whole form into relief. He isn't being hit-or-miss. He is, on the contrary, being intensely thoughtful." (The Arts/Art)." Time 158.2 (July 16, 2001): 66+.)

Bawdy irreverence, iconoclasm, parody, and puns are hallmarks of the work spawned by the art department at the University of California, Davis, in the 1960s and 1970s. In keeping with the counterculture of the time, the tone of this humor was often aggressive and transgressive......Walter Robinson’s larger-than-life, hot pink and melting animal cookies point to the realities of global warming, part of the current exhibit at the SJMA.

No comments: