Until a major Cézanne retrospective or a survey of Dutch still life paintings comes to local museums, the best dose of foodie art is on view now and lasts only through the end of the week. Wayne Thiebaud: 70 Years of Painting at the Pasadena Museum of California Art closes on Sunday, January 31. Thiebaud makes fun and pretty food look, well, even more fun and prettier than it does in real life. The cityscapes are beautiful, too. So take a break from gazing at electronic food porn and go retro by looking at non-backlit, truly inspired images of food.
In that great American tradition of busting cultural hierarchies, Thiebaud took the risk of using French fries, lollipops, and pies as serious subject matter. “Thiebaud was described as the 'hungriest artist in America,'” Exhibition Manager Shirlae Cheng-Lifshin explains. “His fascination with brightly colored, yet pedestrian kinds of foods rises from his nostalgia for a simpler time, when cakes, candies and fries were not considered guilty pleasures, but rather captured the essence of life in California.” Times have changed and our food culture is more complicated these days, but the incredible depth, texture and palette — and yes, palate — in Thiebaud's paintings remain a marvel to see in the original. (Painting shadows is hard, period, and doing it entirely in shades of blue is another skill entirely.)
This Sunday at 3 p.m., PMCA will host art projects, provide snacks, and offer $2 off admission on the final day of the Thiebaud, Frances Gearhart and Ray Turner exhibitions. Round out a museum visit with a trip to local Pasadena eats such as Daisy Mint, Vertical Wine Bistro, EuroPane, Grande Orange, or The Raymond (favorite of Pasadena native Mulleavy sisters). But we reckon Thiebaud would most likely feel inspiration strike at Pie 'N Burger.