Saturday 20 November 2010

Wayne Thiebaud (cakes)

One of my favourite contemporary painters is the Californian artist Wayne Thiebaud (born 1920). He came to prominence in the 1960’s on the back of the of the Pop Art movement, though he himself does not consider himself a Pop Artist. His painting does not critique American culture so much as celebrate it, and his brushwork is more individual and expressive than the flat, mechanized style favored by Pop artists such as Andy Warhol and James Rosenquist.

Thiebaud is best known for his iconic still-lifes foods and products, such as cakes, pies, sandwiches, cosmetics, and toys. He is also celebrated for his vertiginous San Francisco cityscapes and his richly hued views of Northern California. Because his subject matter varies in this way I’m actually going to put up three successive posts on his work featuring cakes, landscapes, and cityscapes.

Personally my favourites are his landscapes, often painted as if seen from an aeroplane, they feature sinuous rivers, lakes and crop patterns, all rendered in his delicious ice-cream palette. The first post shows his cakes (and the odd hot dog or sweet), painted in his typically sensuous, impasto brushwork, and again the delicious colours making the cakes seem both tangible and edible.

Born in Arizona, Thiebaud moved to California in his youth. A student of commercial art, he spent several years as a professional cartoonist at the Walt Disney Studios and elsewhere before moving on to teach art. Thiebaud's knowledge of and respect for commercial illustration greatly informed his subsequent work, which is marked by its formal geometric order and clearly defined forms. After briefly working in the dominant abstract expressionist style, Thiebaud settled on realism as his primary mode of expression in the mid-1950s.

In 1960, Thiebaud began teaching at the University of California at Davis. His paintings of consumer goods from this time are iconic and notable for their sensuous paint and fat brushwork. According to Steven Nash in Wayne Thiebaud: A Paintings Retrospective, "this signature style of Thiebaud's paint handling—the rich, smooth dragging of paint across a surface or around a shape … often transforms itself into the very material being depicted, from frosting or whipped cream to metal—is referred to by the artist as ‘object transference’."

Wayne Thiebaud is a recipient of the National Medal of Arts and a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. In 2001, he was honored with a retrospective and monograph organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco's Legion of Honor. The show to traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas. His work is held by major museums in the United States and abroad.

Thursday 18 November 2010

Robin Day (designer)

A couple of postings ago I featured the mid-century textile designs of Lucienne Day, half of the dynamic duo, Robin and Lucienne Day. Robin, born 1915, is famous as a furniture designer, in fact he's best known for his injection moulded polypropylene stacking chair, of which over 20 million have been manufactured. It was one of the first pieces of furniture to fully use the mass-manufacturing opportunities of injection moulding.

Robin Day graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1938. In 1942 he married the textile designer, Lucienne Conradi. They both opened a design office in 1948 and Day began working as a freelance exhibition, graphic and industrial designer.

A room setting at the 1951 Milan Triennale
Robin Day with textiles designed by Lucienne Day

In 1949 Day entered the 'International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design' held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Day won first prize with Clive Latimer for his wooden and tubular metal storage units.

Day was commissioned by Hills International to design modern furniture for the 1949 'British Industry Fair'. In 1950 Day designed Hill's corporate identity and became the company’s chief designer.

In 1951 Day was awarded a Gold Medal at the Milan Triennale for his design of his 'Homes and Gardens' pavilion at the Festival of Britain.
From 1962 to 1963 Day worked on the Polyprop chair. From 1963 to the present day over 14 million chairs have been sold in twenty three countries. It has been described as one of the most democratic modern designs of the 20th century.

Hillestack chair

The RD1 is an outdoor table is designed for longevity of use. It was originally designed for the 1951 Festival of Britain and has lost none of impact since the. The frame is made from tubular steel and epoxy coated. The table slats are made from sustainable acacia wood so that the chair weathers well. The form is particularly rigid, aided by the wide positioning of the legs. An understated design, the RD1 is rational and universal in spirit.

RD1 table

Polo chair

Magis Sussex table

Avian sofa

Club armchair

41 Chair 1962

'Hille Interplan bench

Hille Interplan sideboard 1954

Pye radio 1965

Royal Festival Hall Dining Chair 1951

Polypropylene Armchair

Polypropylene Chair 1963

Q Rod Chair 1953

Reclining Chair 1952

Royal Festival Hall Armchair 1951