With Thanksgiving coming up, it's hard not to think about food. As mentioned in yesterday's post, the Smithsonian American Art Museum has an event this weekend focusing on food in art and the work of Wayne Thiebaud. But Thiebaud isn't the only artist who looks to food for inspiration. For centuries, food has been used in still lives as symbols of hospitality and abundance, references to religion or mythology, and memento mori, and contemporary artists continue to depict food in new ways.
In 2001 photographer and video artist Sam Taylor-Wood made a video titled Still Life. The video shows the time-lapsed decaying of a bowl of fruit. It opens with an appetizing arrangement of fruit, similar to those found in traditional still life paintings except for a ballpoint pen in the foreground, but quickly becomes a literal and explicit memento mori. During the three minute film we are confronted with the outcomes of the passing of time: fading beauty, decay, and mortality.
Watch Sam Taylor-Wood's Still Life. Warning: it's kind of gross.
On a much happier, less morbid note, dcist.com recently featured the work of artist John Holcomb in their article The District As A Pop-Tart. In a series titled The United Plates Holcomb has created prints showing every state and The District of Columbia as food. The illustrations are fun and playful and definitely worth a look. If they don't inspire you to make art they'll at least give you some creative ideas for playing with your food at your next meal.
If you're interested in exploring more food in artwork, the Luce Foundation Center at the Smithsonian American Art Museum offers Food for Thought, a food themed scavenger hunt through the Center's collection. The scavenger hunt can played in person in the museum, or online by downloading the clues and searching the online collection. The Food for Thought scavenger hunt is available anytime the Luce Foundation Center is open, 11:30am - 7:00pm daily.
Wayne Thiebaud, Around the Cake, 1962
John Holcomb, Washington D.C., 2010