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  • Writer's pictureGabrielle Turnbull

Food and Art

It seems that food and art remain firm friends, continuing to feed our imaginations.


Food and art are two of life’s great pleasures and necessities for a full life. One is nourishment to keep the body and brain ticking over. The other provides sustenance for the heart and soul. What a grim and short existence it would be without them. .


... we recently recognized a strong link between food and art, returning to the earliest times. Stone Age artists used food to depict food.

At Art So Lively Art Academy, we recently recognized a strong link between food and art, returning to the earliest times. Stone Age artists used food to depict food! Using animal blood and fat to bind plant pigments, they described the animals they hunted. Perhaps the purpose was to bring the image to life as food.


There has always been a significant meaning attached to this tradition. Like their Stone Age counterparts, Egyptian artists interwove spiritual and artistic expression, ensuring that all the foods needed for a good life after death were represented in an important person’s tomb.


Also, Roman artists helped society truly celebrate food and wine with Bacchus, god of wine and Ceres, goddess of grain, featuring alongside culinary delicacies in many household frescoes. But not only the walls! Floor mosaics depicted food scraps on unswept floors after a lavish banquet.


Illustrations in medieval manuscripts provide detailed snapshots of this era’s food culture - both preparation and consumption. Often there was a biblical moral attached, such as “gluttony is a sin”.


Then in Renaissance times, food continued to be a significant subject for artists and patrons. The standout for me is 16th-century Italian painter Guiseppi Arcimboldo, with his portraits of the Emperors. These were composed of fruits and vegetables, perhaps saying this ruler was creating an era of abundance.


Dutch and Flemish painters of the Baroque era became masters of Still Life, skillfully depicting lavish scenes of rare foods as reflections of the patron’s wealth.


Echoing ancient cave artists, Filippo Marinetti, in the early 1900s, started to create art from the food itself. His `Futurist` movement promoted cooking and dining as the centrepiece of this new art form. Following this, Food Art entered the artistic expressions of feminist ideology.


Food Art launched new restaurants as art projects. Specially-themed food preparation was carried out in art galleries, and exotic sculptures were created using food, to name just a few ways art and food collided during the last hundred years.


It seems that food and art remain firm friends, continuing to feed our imaginations.

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