Friday, October 16, 2015

Tuna Fish Disaster & Artist's Shit: Food Packaging as Art

artfoodlit                                        www.foodinthe



 Once we sat at the breakfast table and "read" our cereal boxes.  Sports figures
(Babe Ruth) or adventure heroes (aviatrix Elinor Smith), antique toys and collectibles, and pictures that we would cut out for baseball cards.  WE often purchased a cereal brand because of our interest in the box's illustration. This were our text - advertising at its most powerful, always enhanced by a visual and highly symbolic image.

But here is a different image with a different message:

Artist's Shit (Italian: Merda d'artista) is a 1961 artwork by the Italian artist Piero Manzoni. The work consists of 90 tin cans, each filled with 30 grams (1.1 oz) of feces, and measuring 4.8 by 6.5 centimetres (1.9 in × 2.6 in), with a label in Italian, English, French, and German.  The artist is telling us that the object is his own and it is made from his own body. It  is unlikely that it can become a dollar-valued "commodity."

Artist's Shit
Contents 30 gr net5

Andy Warhol, Tunafish Disaster, 1963

   As a response to America's bland, entertaining pictorial art, but continuing realism, Warhol chooses the popular media, a newspaper, for his message. And 
Marshall McLuan would not be surprised.

The idea of an internal deterioration is expressed even more overtly in works such as Tunafish Disaster. Here, Warhol lifts the story of two housewives directly from newspapers: Mrs. Brown and Mrs. McCarthy shared a sandwich made from tainted store-bought tuna and died of food poisoning. Their death made headlines across the country. The A&P tin of tuna that, along with countless other industrially manufactured foods, was to liberate homemakers had suddenly turned into its opposite, linked to fear of destruction”.”

Some Questions:

1. Why might an artist choose commercial packaging as art?

2 How big is a food container? A cup? A bottle? A package? A ship?

3. Is the artist entering the discussion on the ownership of art, its provenance or lack thereof?

4. Is the artist challenging the unimaginable breadth of choice in materials?

5. Are we studying (or just amused at) food packaging as art or do other disciplines apply? What of the pervasive power of images in our civilization? Can true art stand up to commercialism and the profit motive? What is the effect of unsavory contents?

     First, one might consider the processes of food containers in undeveloped societies, wherein banana leaves, bark or animal skin or entrails containers come under the gaze of the ethnologist, who calls it ethnographic art or folk art.

    The creative movement toward incorporating a wider and wider range of art materials has been in full view since Dada, propelled,in part, by the democratic challenge to academic authority or, further, as a rejection of figurative or established traditional art forms.

     The food container as art presents an unexpected phenomenon that calls for reviewing and reconsideration. In our world, art is basically the enemy of practical business, where a commodity is valued on a dollar amount. Essentially, art in containers asks: who owns these materials and, therefore the finished piece? Does its price make it rare or a “collectible”? Who wants to own such a creation? Will it fit in the living room? Does it match the sofa?

    Can the container be very, very large? Yes! Above, Marshall Sokoloff's dramatic photo, Sugar depicting an ocean-going freighter carrying various cargoes of food. Sokoloff presents his photographs of the weathered and discolored hulls of ships that are carrying raw materials – hemp, fruit, and sugar from the tropics, north through the Atlantic to the Jarvis Quay in Toronto, Canada.

Robert C. Jackson (b. Kinston, NC, 1964) He paints and creates artistic assemblages of containers, often called "painted stories" or "installations." 

Jordan, Chris (b. 1963, Seattle)  Appropriation from Georges Seurat, Sunday on le Grande Jetee. Re-cycled metal can construction, 2007


In his alluring photographs, Chris Jordan coaxes us into confronting our implication in “the collective trance of our consumerism and runaway industrial growth,” as he has said, and the way in which it wreaks havoc on our environment and every living being dependent upon it. Through both documentary and digitally manipulated photographs, he shows us the results of unchecked mass consumption. He has photographed mountains of cell phones, cars, and other consumer waste products, as well as the autopsied bodies of albatrosses on Midway Island, overflowing with scraps of plastic they pick up from the Pacific Ocean. In his ongoing “Running the Numbers” series (begun 2006), he makes staggering social and environmental statistics visible by transforming problems into pictures, including the head of a whale composed entirely of plastic bags. “My hope is that these photographs can serve as portals to a kind of cultural self-inquiry,” Jordan says.

Outerbridge, Paul    Saltine Box, 1923
Outerbridge shows early use of negative space and a style of cubism

Warmouth, Jeffu Schewitz, Egg-Matzo Balls 
 Matzo is part of the traditional Jewish meal and Jews do not celebrate the Christian Easter. A humorous juxtaposition.

Fleury, Sylvia (b. Geneva, Switzerland, 1961) Slim Fast Milk shake Powder Can from

installation, 1993

W. B. Moore (b. Poughkeepsie, NY, 1931) Pepsi Wonder [Collage], 2010
 Ritzy Oreo [collage], 2009 NO IMAGE

Kippenberger,Martin (b. Dortmund, GDR, 1953-1997) The Artist’s Angst

Baldacinnni,Cesar (b. Marseilles, 1921-1998) Compression Coca
  The artist did a series of "compressed sculptures" using containers of various commercial brands. 1992

Ceilo Meireles (b. Rio de Janeire). Partially filled Coke bottles is a strong political statement about the Coca Cola Company which drains energy from South American (and other) countries

Rahman, Jessy installation n.d.

Daft Punk Designs, Coca Cola Limited, limited

Wong, Martin Résume Consumé

Zandfliet, Robert


Fish, Janet   [plastgic] Bag of Bananas, 1976

Ray Kleinleine, (b.Columbus, Ohio, 1969) Pink Boxes

Kleinlein teaches at Lynchburg College and Longwood University, Virginia
His sensuous realism has been recognized by various publications.

 In 1999, he was awarded the Mary Lou Chess Award by the Ohio Art League and placed 2nd in Miami University's National Young Painters competition in 2001. 

Dahn Trung Vō Pronounced Yan vo (b.1975, Bà Rịa., Vietnam, lived in Denmark,Berlin) Fiat Veritas” (“let there be truth”)
Guilded Budweiser Box, 2013

Leibowitz, Cary (aka "Candyass", b. 1963, NYC)

No More Disappointing Offspring, 2000

“Don't Steal My Car Stereo, I'm Queer” reads a car windshield screen by New York artist Candyass, also known by his birth name Cary Leibowitz. A self-loathing, self-deprecating, incessant whiner, Candy Ass employs humor, media satire, self-doubt, homosexual innuendo and Jewish cultural references to make his not-so-subtle critique of the pretentious commercial art world.

His work is represented in the collections of the Chase Manhattan Bank, the Hirschhorn Museum, The Jewish Museum, New York; the Peter and Eileen Norton Collection and the Robert J Shiffler Foundation. 

 Ramos, Mel (b. Sacramento, CA, 1935) And that's a wrap!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood (Europa, 2013)

                                                 AN ARTIST at the TABLE



      I read in the New York Times (October 21,2015) that we are now invited to visit 
the Museum of Food and Drink,in Brooklyn, NY, where a new exhibit will clarify our senses of taste and smell, entitled "Flavor: Making It and Faking It". (SEE William Grimes, "The Taste and Smell Museum," NY Times October 21, ARTS SECTION, pp c1, c6)
Grimes has always been an entertaining food critic and author of such books as My Fine Feathered Friend (May 2002), which is my favorite.)

    The article approaches the main question head on: “What makes your favorite food so delicious?” and the exhibit replies with one word: “Chemicals.”

    Grimes remarks, as he should: "The word is deflating. It’s a little like being told that the human soul has a specific atomic weight. Chemicals? Yuck." (See? I told you he is great)
And, apparently, one gets to see and hear how aromas and tastes are determined by ouf bodies' reaction to, yes, chemicals!

    Two items for the reader who is interested in this subject.

 First, in 2001, with the help of Robert and Margrit Mondavi and nearly a hundred other persons (yes,Julia Child, too) and various institutions,a museum opened in Napa,California. It was designed to explore the affective connections of wine, food production and art. It was called Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts. I visited in 2005 and was over whelmed by the foie gras in Julia's Kitchen (cafe), the art exhibits covering Dada-like pieces made from re-cycled materials, the outdoor herb garden and much more.  Unfortunately, the experiment failed and Copia closed in 2008.

    Many of us yearn for its return, but I don't think that the Museum for Food and Drink will fill the bill.

    Second, a delightful picaresque novel so delightful in its uses of food experiments and a few, recipes that will amuse and intrigue the reader.

The Last Banque

  Jean-Marie d'Aumont grows (one might say "evolves") from an orphan peasant of uncertain lineage, sitting in the happily in the summer sun, his back to a dung heap, nibbling on a stag beetle, to a widely-known and admired member of France's 18th century nobility.  Most notable of all, he is a connoisseur of European cuisine and well beyond that. From childhood to old age, he pursued the tastes of everything, aggressively, bravely and
mostly alone, in secret.

Paralleling his assumption of roles as a curious, but lazy student to an outrageously successful lover to a place in the countryside as a shrewed investor, an inventor (and an improver of things like meat spits and condoms(who carries on  correspondence with Voltaire and a "kindly" estate owner (that is, his peasants don't quite starve odeatgh)

his quest for tastes, the experience of moving through a privileged education, at age twenty he becomes the duke of                  he also finds numerous and sensuously described lead him

 rom childhood to old age, he pursued the tastes of everything, aggressively, bravely and
sometimes alone, in secret. It's a picaresque novel in that standard fashion poor boy recognized for strengths anbdosssoiilitiswal ofwhich he fulfills


The Last Banquet is an outstanding picaresque novel set in 18th century France, charting the life of Jean-Marie Charles d'Aumout, orphan, military cadet, aristocrat and owner of the finest menagerie in France. Driven by his obsession with food and a desire to discover new outlandish tastes, the tale follows his rise from beetle-eating poverty to marriage into the French nobility and his subsequent fall from grace as the Revolution takes its grip on the country.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Vatel, A 2000 Film About Food and Integrity in 18th Century France

Starring French actor, Gérard Depardieu.

This film offers a glimpse of was or might have been the cuisine of the court of Louis IX. The meals were extravagent spectacles, even called "miracles" when assigned to the talents of Vatel ,the Steward, the maitre d'hotel.  More than superbly grilled meats or poached seafood, there were illusionary displays and fireworks, all created though Vatel's talent and imagination, and power.. When his coveted services (i.e.talents) his whole being, are  casually "lost" in a royals' card game, he chooses an honorable departure rather than compromise his honor, staff and his responsibilities.

     Francois Vatel was born in Paris. He is widely but incorrectly credited with creating crème Chantilly (Chantilly cream), a sweet, vanilla-flavoured whipped cream, but there is no contemporary documentation for this claim, and whipped, flavored cream was known at least a century earlier.
Jun 20, 2013 - Uploaded by Filmfood Janneke
Food in Film: Vatel 2000 Starring Gérard Depardieu as the great 17th-century French chef, Francois Vatel.

    François Vatel (French pronunciation: ​[fʁɑ̃swa vatɛl]) (1631 – April 24, 1671) was the majordomo (in French, maître d'hôtel) of Nicolas Fouquet and prince Louis II de Bourbon-Condé.

     MonsieurVatel served Louis XIV's superintendent Nicolas Fouquet in the splendid inauguration fête at the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte that took place on 17 August 1661, the occasion of Fouquet's downfall.
     Vatel was responsible for an extravagant banquet for 2,000 people hosted in honour of Louis XIV by Louis, the great Condé in April 1671 at the Château de Chantilly, where he died. According to a letter by Madame de Sévigné, Vatel was so distraught about the lateness of the seafood delivery and about other mishaps that he committed suicide by running himself through with a sword, and his body was discovered when someone came to tell him of the arrival of the fish carts.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cheeses: Read all About 'Em! It's Still Summer

Clara Peeters, Still Life with Cheeses, Artichoke and Cherries,1625

                  Food in the

food art lit food art lit food art lit food art lit food art lit food art lit

   I have just fallen in love with three lovelies: Pinot Bianco, creamy blue cheese, and white peaches.  All of which bring me to some new cheese stories.

  Max Watman, The Harvest: Field Notes from a Far-Flung Pursuit of Real Food (Norton, 2014)

Review by Daniel Boulud in New York Times Book Review (July 13, 2014):

“While I was growing up on our family farm near Lyon (France), I learned the importance of seasonal produce and fully utilized livestock at an early age. Max Watman’s witty and vivid accounts of producing farm-fresh products such as cheese and preserves in a modern world brings back fond memories and had me laughing throughout.”

Having spent part of my youth at my grandfather's farm in Dutchess County, New York, I share this enthusiasm for the sight, smell and taste of fresh, out-of-the ground or off-the-tree produce. No cheeses, alas, but green beans and heirloom tomatoes (uncooked, but we didn't know about basil and olive oil), small new potatoes, rubbed clean on my bib overalls and chomped, raspberries and "blackcaps" and currents plucked from a sunny vine, and peaches and plums so ripe that they were ready to drop from the leafy branches. Very, very few people today know that sublime experience. Maybe that's why we see only styrofoam fruit and apples so hard that they qualify as lethal weapons.

I fear that my generation may be the last to create our meals with 1940s sensibilities. 

And that is but one reason why your summer reading will be wonderful when paired with the more intense drama of traditional Castilian (Spanish) artisan cheese-making (sheeps' milk) in Michael Paterniti's The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese (Dial Press, 2013). There is much poetic language about the perfection of cheese, the fulfilling connection of man and his fields, and the wisdom and satisfaction of growing food in the old ways.

Still LIfe with Bread, Ham, Cheese (1772) 
Luis Egidio Melendez (Spanish, b.Naples 1716-1780)

Quote:  For Ambrosio, cheesemaking was both beautiful and primal: the milking and hauling, the pouring and harping, the careful progression of heating that depended on the right flame, all of it down to the work of one's calloused hands, leading after a number of months to some unknown destination, some new birth, some revelation rising out of the physical.  It was an act of faith, really (p. 60).

Sheep graze in Spain's Meseta region, a place of sever weather, summer or winter.

But we find here, too, a hefty slice of Spanish political history and small-village sociology, meticulously footnoted. It all fits together, as it should, to make a grand tale (See An American Man's Quest to Become an Old Castilian -

Curiously, or perhaps not, all three tales present a hero/heroine of a small enterprise which is threatened with corporate sameness, defeat and disaster.

And to complete your summer reading scene, mix yourself a 'Bella Fresher (invented by my son-in-law and named after my granddaughter Anabelle Ash Miguelucci-Moore. How's that for personal disclosure? (2 oz vodka, muddle: sweet basil, several chunks of fresh white peaches, a dash of sugar/simple syrup, and top with a bit of ginger ale (preferably Blenheim's). One could add a leaf or two of lemon verbena, as well.

Okay, if you're not up to purchase new books, check the library for Sherri Holman's charming romance about a heroin's cheese (Jersey cows' milk) life in a small town, Three Chimneys, Virginia, The Mammoth Cheese (Grove Press, 2003). 

Margaret Pricket, a single mother and specialty cheese-maker, considers a plan for her business to survive. She takes the advice and help of a preacher (actually, several clergymen) to do a publicity stunt, to re-create the original Thomas Jefferson era 1,235 pound "Mammoth  Cheese" as a gift for the president.

And from the Danish community in Minneapolis, MN, I learned this: for a sensational cheeseburger, smear a goodly amount of blue cheese on the meat mid-way through the grilling [See The Minnesota Ethnic Food Book, 1986].

 Finally, to complete the picture, order a  cheese-friendly T-shirt from Murray's Cheese - www.murray'