Thiebaud’s cakes cost $350,000

Close-up of Cake Bell

Close-up of "Cake Bell"

I am a fan of Wayne Thiebaud’s desserts, so during my short stay in San Francisco, I made a decision to go to the Paul Thiebaud gallery instead of the deYoung. I had found out about the special exhibition “Confection Memories” entirely by chance, and it turned out to be a wonderful experience.

The location of the gallery, according to Google Maps, was nowhere near any subway stations, but I was in a good mood after oohing-aahing over the architecture at the Circle Gallery (designed by Frank lloyd Wright) and decided to walk. I went through Chinatown and North Beach (during which I bought a gigantic mirror at an antique store that was auctioning off its stuff) and arrived in a neighborhood that didn’t seem at all like one that would house a gallery. It was a plain, residential area, with rows and rows of pastel-colored houses on a hill. I didn’t notice the gallery until I was almost in front of it.

The place was small, but cozy, and is definitely a great place for individual shows (if only I could have a show there!). The exhibit was excellent. Thiebaud’s most recent confections had the same look as his previous ones, but the paint was thicker, giving the paintings more texture, which I thought was wonderful. I think the texture of paint is what makes looking at a painting in real life so different from looking at it through a photograph.I could have taken home everyone one, but my eye fell upon one in particular– a small painting of a slice of bread spread with peanut butter. I just loved the colors and the texture of the peanut butter. I looked at the price in the catalog- $350,000. At first, I calculated it as $35,000 in my head and actually pondered for a moment, wondering if I should splurge and make the investment. But then I realized I needed to add another zero to the end and became extremely disappointed.

According to the nice lady on site (curator?), the gallery is currently run by Paul Thiebaud, Wayne’s son. She said that booklets of the exhibits were not made because they didn’t have the money. Hm. Perhaps sales of the paintings will help them- but then again, that would be Wayne’s sales, not Paul’s. Perhaps Paul Thiebaud should try to make money from licensed images of his father’s works in prints and derivative work. I can totally see a line of Thiebaud-inspired bakeware or stationery, for example. Some may argue that art shouldn’t be commercial, but, well…

Peanut Butter Sandwich


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