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Wayne Thiebaud

Untitled
1963
ink wash
16 3/4 x 22 1/4 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Manuel Neri

This extraordinary drawing, executed solely in blue and black ink wash, suggests a greater range of color because of the artist’s skill in handling the medium. The varying densities of ink, spontaneous brush strokes, and bold patterns of forms and shadows enliven an elegantly simple composition. Lively shorthand marks, which suggest berries, chocolate, whipped cream, and frosting, complement the solid, cylindrical shapes of the cakes, engaging the viewer’s sense of touch and taste as well as sight. With his images of mass-produced foodstuffs, Thiebaud revived the art of still life painting, focusing on unequivocally American subjects.