Art of the Day: Wayne Thiebaud, “Candy Apples” (1987) & 2009 copy by Nel Jansen

  April 13th, 2011

       Wayne Thiebaud, Candy Apples, 1987, Color woodcut


       Nel Jansen, copy of Wayne Thiebaud’s Candy Apples, 2009, oil on stretched canvas

      For me, shadow’s everything with Thiebaud. His studies of cakes, candies, italian desserts & other foodstuffs gain this moody, mysterious haunt from the shadows often cast behind them; from the way the light does and doesn’t hit them. In “Candy Apples”, the apple-sticks add to the moodiness, stiff & stabbed into the caramelled fruits like witches’ ladles stuck in the thick sludge of nine pots. Or, more menacingly, like weapons left in organs arrayed for some mysterious ritualistic purpose. The artist’s blueing of shadow adds touches of melancholy to the night-time sweet arrangement, the narrative of which baffles: Who set out the treats? Who’s watching them fasten to the counter? Who cares when the mood’s this deliciously dark?
      Jansen’s superb copy maintains the mood of Thiebaud’s original and adds a fascinating dimension of cramped bleakness by eliminating some of the perspective and thickening up blacks & shadows. The lightsource is positioned a little higher and more centrally, focusing a sort of interrogator’s heat-lamp on the objects, imparting a sense of isolation. Her apples are stripped of the blue accents & other color touches of the original; what’s left behind is a set of raw red, elemental, smoldering orbs, incredibly effective against that ultra-inky abyss within which they glow.
     Note — I’m not 100% sure as to whether Jansen used the ’87 “Candy Apples” for her copy (perhaps there’s another “Candy Apples” Thiebaud work out there that was used?) — if I’m incorrect, my apologies!
 Learn more about Thiebaud and check out more of his art at

 Check out more of Jansen’s art here, and check out the source for her copy here.

All writing © copyright C. Way / 2011

[posted by C Way at 9:11 PM]


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