Jock Reynolds, now the director of the Yale University Art Gallery, recalled his first day of class, when Professor Thiebaud asked his students to produce a pencil and paper. “What followed was a remarkably lucid lecture on where to buy the best and cheapest salami, cheese, coffee, fruit, bread, cakes, and wine, things he insisted would significantly enrich the quality of our lives,” Mr. Reynolds said.
Later Mr. Reynolds realized that his professor was sharing more than a shopping list. “He was giving his students direct insights into the very subject matter that was inspiring his own art; the frosted cakes, cream pies, lollipops and the trays of herring and sardines he was transforming, through the skilled application of paint onto canvas, into the most tactile and sensuous visual compositions imaginable.”
Mr. Thiebaud’s favorite class to teach was Beginning Drawing. “You really see people transformed,” he said. “Teaching it has a big fatigue factor. But once they get a sense of it, it’s like heroin.”