Wayne Thiebaud, Former Disney Animator and Painter, Dies At 101

Wayne Thiebaud, a prolific painter and onetime Disney animator, has passed away. He was 101. His death was announced on Sunday by his gallery, Acquavella, but their statement did not provide details on the timing and circumstances of Thiebaud's death. As a painter, Thiebaud was part of the modern art school, but he approached his work less cynically than many of his contemporaries in that movement. Per The Hollywood Reporter, who first widely reported his passing, "Many of his painted images were outlined in neon pinks and blues that made the objects appear to glow. Shadows were often a rich blue."

Thiebaud said during a NewsHour interview once he preferred calling himself a painter, not an artist. "It's like a priest referring to himself as a saint," he explained. "Maybe it's a little too early or he's not the one to decide that. … Being an artist I think is a very rare thing."

"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,'" Acquavella's statement said.

Thiebaud was born in Mesa, Arizona, in 1920, but grew up in Sacramento, California. He would eventually become associated with San Francisco due to the way the city often inspired his art. Other favorite subjects included gumballs, cakes, and other brightly-colored bits of everyday life.

Thiebaud began his career as as an animator for Walt Disney, but that isn't where he made his name. Neither IMDb nor the Disney Wiki even have any specific projects listed that he worked on during his time there. Later, he would become a professor at the University of California, Davis. He retired in 1991, but has continued to teach one class per year.

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Our hearts go out to Mr. Thiebaud's family, friends, and collaborators at this difficult time.