Three Treats
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More about Three Treats

cschuster's picture

Sr. Contributor

This cut from Wayne Thiebaud's catalog was personally donated by the artist to the museum. But it's far from the only one.

Thiebaud donated 72 of his own artworks to The Manetti Shrem Museum of Art (which everyone in the know is calling The Shrem, bee-tee-dubs), plus an additional 300 paintings by other artists from his personal collection. These whopping gifts make ol' Thiebaud the young institution's most prolific patron, while concurrently making the Shrem a temple to everything Wayne. Sure, the museum's got so many powdered, candied, and glazed Wonka-esque confections like Three Treats that your eyes might need a shot of insulin before you leave the gallery. But Thiebaud's talent went beyond his being the oil painting equivalent of an ice cream truck driver. Also represented from his oeuvre are fine portraits as well as landscapes of California circa the 1960s and 1970s that make the pastries in Three Treats look all the sweeter. 

Cakes and pies are more than just Thiebaud's manifestation of the world's biggest sweet tooth. Paintings like Three Treats are a sugar coated way to examine the elements of art that make up painting. Each saccharine morsel meditates on the formal qualities of painting that mix and mingle to make what we call art. It's a pretty common impulse for artists to explore these alcoves of expression by painting still life, which is what Thiebaud's sugary baubles amount to, for all of their glacé glamor. His singular take on the still life, à la Three Treats, is clothed in memories from his (and our collective) American childhood.