Wayne Thiebaud, a Sacramento-based artist and teacher famous for his colorful paintings of desserts and California landscapes, died Dec. 25 at the age of 101. Thiebaud’s death was announced on Instagram by his gallery, Acquavella.
“An American icon, Wayne led his life with passion and determination, inspired by his love for teaching, tennis, and above all, making art,” the gallery wrote. “Even at 101 years old, he still spent most days in the studio, driven by, as he described with his characteristic humility, ‘this almost neurotic fixation of trying to learn to paint.’”
Born in 1920 in Mesa, Arizona, USA, Thiebaud became an apprentice in the animation department at Walt Disney Studios for three months while in high school. He then enrolled at the Frank Wiggins Trade School in Los Angeles where he learned sign-painting and other commercial art skills.
Thiebaud’s years as a cartoonist influenced his technique, a stylized realism depicting everyday objects and scenes. His career as a painter took off in 1962 with his New York City debut show at the Allan Stone Gallery. He began teaching at Sacramento City College while a fine arts graduate student at Sacramento State College. He was closely associated with UC Davis where he taught for three decades, from 1961-91.