This weekend I’m off to see “Taste: Food and Feasting in Art” as the first event in the #smackmyarts programme. It’s an art exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery which highlights that “Art reveals the central place of food in all cultures”.
I thought I’d do a little bit of homework before I go. I know that food is a symbol for different things (in art, isn’t everything a symbol or metaphor?) but what things? My first stop is the “Oxford Art Online database”.* Surprisingly, the “Food” subject is about creating art out of foodstuffs. There’s a cute little line “the nineteenth-century pastry cook Marie-Antoine Carême, who was famous for his elaborate sculptures made out of sugar, claimed that confectionery was the principal branch of architecture” which makes me wonder whether he had an ant problem and how he solved it. The article goes on to talk about the aesthetic pleasure in smell and taste. Somehow I don’t think it’d be acceptable behaviour to lick the paintings.
I quite like the idea of art created from food. There’s some amazingly creative people out there as this Bento Box Flickr group demonstrates. Creating art from perishable goods must say something about the fleeting nature of beauty. (Maybe it only says something about love? Or the unstoppable creative spirit?) The Gallery are also trying to encourage some food making. I love the way they have recipes on the exhibition page, sort of a ‘create your own masterpiece’ invitation. Best of all you get to eat the results.
A Google search sent me to The Empty Easel an online arts magazine. The Long History of Food in Art by Donovan Gauvreau describes a long tradition of food in art. It says that depicting food in art allowed the artist to show off their technical skills. I imagine it would have been rather restful to paint/sculpt food too – no whining or complaining about the weather.
I wait with interest to see what the exhibtion shows.
*Database available through your NZ public library’s online database subscriptions.