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Beloved American Artist Wayne Thiebaud Has Died At 101

American painter Wayne Thiebaud, beloved for his cake-like works that captured the American imagination, has died at the age of 101.

Wayne Thiebaud was born in a Mormon family in Arizona in 1920. He grew up on his family farm, soaking natural scenes during the Great Depression. Beginning his career as a cartoonist, Wayne Thiebaud pursued painting as a career in the mid-1950s. As with artists like Andy Warhol, Thiebaud too focused on imageries from the regular American life. But while his peers choose critique and satire, Thiebaud’s art rather focused on nostalgia and the American Dream. This made him one of the most beloved artists for generations.

Wayne Thiebaud, Pies, Pies, Pies (1961). Courtesy of the Crocker Art Museum

Wayne Thiebaud often met with criticism for appealing to mass appeal in a time when art was considered a counter-culture tool. But he never paid heed to it; for him, pretension was a “waste of time”. With thick paint layers using palette knives, Thiebaud crafted a niche for his cake-like works. His art style drew both from Abstract Expressionism and Pop Culture.

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Wayne Thiebaud spent most of his life in California. Due to his “commercial art” status, his works were never a prime attraction at auctions. Despite this, Thiebaud ultimately became one of the most recognizable and loved artists in the country. Last year, when asked about the secret of his happy, long life during his 100th birthday, he said: “I spend a lot of time in the studio. I work almost every day. I have a wonderful family who indulges me in this amazing search for how difficult it is to make a good painting.”