From Claes Oldenburg to Tom Wesselmann via Warhol: how food has infected art.

The first to imagine onions and courgettes immersed – literally – in a work of art was Giuseppe Arcimboldo . Already in the sixteenth century, the Milanese painter enjoyed elaborating bizarre portraits, the “Compound heads”, knotting fruit, vegetables, flowers and animals (especially birds and fish) thus becoming a sort of precursor of the art that has food as its protagonist. His works from simple provocations have given way to a line of artists interested in foodstuffs of common use removed from their usual context. Think of Salvador Dalì , already in 1933, with “Bust of a woman”, exhibited at the MoMA and with “Hair of the Cob”. But also in Magritte with the famous “Ceci n’est pas une Pomme”in 1964.

Many painters are artists in their own right. Painters from Locolpaint are skilled enough to deliver a food mural for a restaurant, for example. Let’s take a look at contemporary artists who have intertwined food and art.

Contemporary Painters and Artists Who Combined Food and Art

1) Claes Oldenburg

Swedish naturalized American artist and sculptor, Claes Oldenburg belongs to the current of pop art. It stands out for the particularity of designing gigantic installations depicting everyday objects. And when we say huge, we mean the 12-meter long ice cream cone that the artist “placed” on the roof of the Neumarkt Galerie in Cologne. Or the huge Swiss army knife and the titanic spoon with cherry.

2) Felix Gonzales Torres

Impossible, at least wandering around on the web and social networks, never to have come across the famous work of art “with candies”. Minimalist and conceptual, the art of the famous Cuban artist is charged with a very strong emotional impact taking charge of sneaking into every intimate aspect of the couple’s daily love. “Untitled” (Potrait of Ross in LA) ”, from ’91, tells the story of the tragedy that happened to his companion who died of AIDS. The weight of this installation, presented as a heap of candies lying on the corner, corresponds exactly to that of the missing companion. The public is asked to slowly destroy the work by taking away one candy at a time, to represent the slow terminal phase of the disease that has consumed the body of the fellow artist.

3) Tom Wesselmann

You know the paintings of Tom Wesselmann, one of the historical masters of Pop Art famous for his “Great American Nudes”? His works are contaminated with products of major American brands of American society of the sixties. In “Still Life 30” (1963, New York, MoMA) the foods that can be found in the pantry and in the refrigerator of a family of the consumer society peep out. Some objects are painted, others have been cut out of the advertisement and then pasted onto the painting surface, following a fine line between the artwork and the advertisement.

4) Alberto de Braud

De Braud is a Milanese artist passionate about details, accumulation, sequence . In short, the multiplication of the elements. His works represent objects extrapolated from their usual context that are repeated indefinitely. What de Braud wants to convey to the viewer is the idea that apparently trivial and meaningless fragments of reality (like common food), linked together take on a new meaning.

5) Piero Gilardi

The works of Italian sculptures are characterized by having an interactive and participatory vocation . An innovative language. For Gilardi, life and art are strongly interconnected starting from the essential relationship between nature and culture. his artistic career has investigated the era of Italian consumerism, from its origins to the advent of new technologies. Its artistic form is oriented to seek solutions to counter socio-cultural degradation and restore its relational and therapeutic function to art.

6) Marcel Broodthaers

Marcel Broodthaers was a Belgian artist and poet, one of the major representatives of conceptual art that combines the surrealist culture with the artistic trends of the sixties and seventies. In one of his most successful works he portrayed food: “Casserole and Closed Mussels” (casserole with mussels). In this work the artist used food to make fun of and make fun of his country with the typical national dish. Here the mussels “overflow” from a very common kitchen casserole giving life to a work with a surrealist flavor.

7) Andy Warhol

It is 1962 and we are in Los Angeles. Today a rookie New York artist named Andy Warhol will hold his first solo show at the Ferus Gallery. For the first time, in a gallery, cans of tomato soup ( Campbell Soup I ) will be exhibited over and over again, so as to turn the spotlight on the combination of society and consumerism. Warhol’s works have been transformed into symbols of American mass culture through the repetition of images linked to the advertising language.

Food and Art – Wall Painting for Restaurants