Three Sandwiches

  • Wayne Thiebaud, Three Sandwiches, 1961, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Woodward Foundation, 1976.108.144

Luce Center Label

Wayne Thiebaud has created hundreds of images of food, from sandwiches and fish to lollipops, cakes, and gumball machines. He was inspired by "I Macchiaioli," a group of nineteenth-century Italian artists who built up thick layers of paint to heighten contrasts between light and shadow. Thiebaud took this idea further by applying the paint so that it evoked the physical substances in the image, such as soft sliced bread, creamy icing, or rich slabs of butter. The thick layers of paint and absence of any other details in this painting transform the familiar display into a surreal landscape that plays with our sense of scale. The packaging tells us the objects are sandwiches, but their shapes evoke huge, looming pyramids in the middle of a desert at twilight.

Luce Object Quote
"[I remember] seeing rows of pies or a tin of pie with a piece cut out of it and one piece sitting beside it. Those little vedúta [views] in fragmented circumstances were always poetic to me." Thiebaud, quoted in Arthur, Realists at Work, 1983
Three Sandwiches
12 1/8 x 16 1/8 in. (30.8 x 40.9 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of the Woodward Foundation

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Still life – foodstuff – sandwich
Object Number
Linked Open Data
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