Monday, June 4, 2007

Catching Up

Still have some work ahead of me here, but I spent some time today catching up on some of my favorite blogs.

One group of posts by Bob Del Grosso in particular really caught my attention and got me thinking. Basicly to sum it up the repeated theme was "Art/Food Art" and discussions arose at to what one would consider art in relation to food.

Ive always had a strong stance that Food in general, when cooked well and prepared neatly and beautifuly can be "Art", while macaroni pictures and artists who use peanut butter and jelly on a canvas are not in any way "Art".

After a short discussion with my roommate I came to realize that in some ways Im a hypocrite when it comes to what I percieve as food art and what I percieve as "art".

So, lets clarify.
Art is defined as (in part):
1. the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

With that in mind any number of things, even *cringe* PBJ canvas painting, can be considered "Art". Now remove the uppidy societicrites(I totaly just made that word up) who will tell you that art must "not be afraid to scare or upset its viewer" or tell in general what "makes" art and what doesnt and lets look at the general picture of Food in relation to Art.

I have a poll placed on the right hand of this blog. Please take a look at the following 4 pictures and you tell me which you would consider to be "Food Art" if we define food art as followed:
Food Art- the creation of a piece to be considred which base medium is food in which adhears to the (above) definition of "Art".

So here are your choices:

Example A: Croquette Potato as served at Alinea
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Example B: Pomegranite photo (Example of Food Photography)
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Example C: I Cake Marti Guixe design artist. Cake is made as a pie chart to show the amount of cake ingredients.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Example D: Random Google Photo.. dont ask me what the heck it is!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

So take a minute, Vote and Ill post the results in a few days to see what we all think makes up "Food Art."

Good Eating!


Bob del Grosso said...

Hi Foodist
I voted based on the definition you provided and voted for C. The only reason I did not vote for A was that when I evaluate art, the significance aspect is more important to me than beauty.
Bob dG

gary allen said...

One of the qualities that distinguishes art from non-art is the degree and nature of the mental activity involved in the work's production and experience. Given that, I could not vote for only one choice. I found it pretty easy to eliminate "D" -- but am hard-pressed to give a reason that is not based purely on taste (or the lack thereof).

Whether something IS, or is not, art is an interesting pastime but, in the end, probably moot.

Anonymous said...

I think all of those pictures are art in their own way. Personally, I voted for the first picture because it was the only one that looked like something a chef made while in an artistic mood. Maybe someone could write the recipe to that plate, but it would never turn out the same way. I would've considered the second one art if we were discussing photography. The third one could be art if we were looking for a meaning to it, but I believe art should provoke an emotion as opposed to reminding people of a meaning. The last one could be written as a recipe and it would turn out the same way given the right directions, which is why I wouldn't consider it art. That's my opinion, at least *blush*.

fgg-1 from LJ

The Foodist said...


If you could touch on what you believe to be the significant value of Picture C.

Im interested to see what aspects you characterize as signifigant so I can better see your point.


I agree with you on your statement. Art must invoke thought, as well as need thought to create it.

I agree with D being totaly null and void as "art" but the reasoning behind it will be devuldged soon.

In a professional kitchen theory is put into practice. there are hundreds of "recipes" for Croquette potatoes but its the METHOD that makes them Croquette. With that in mind anyone who understands the method could recreate this dish as well as modify it as they see fit presentation wise.

Some would consider photography to be art (myself included given the piece).

Meaning vs Emotion is a good point to make. But in defense of both doesnt provoking emotion from art have a meaning? The two are interchangable wherein lays another avenue of debate. Function vs Content. Architecture is both functional as well as artistic in nature, embodies beauty and spirs thought.

Recipes do not a cook make, nor do recipes make art. A recipe is nothing more then a guideline and should be treated as much. With keeping to the idea of Art, lets say a recipe is nothing more then the canvas. It gives you somewhere to start.

The good cooks, the real true masters of this art learn and practice the theory of cooking. Time honored and tested methods.

But thank you all for your input.

The Foodist said...

oh and Fgg... You used a word that I will touch on later in another post..

Opinion. Im finding it to be a very interesting word in relation to what we think of as art

Gary said...

It's interesting that ingredients and methods are considered separate when evaluating the artfulness of a recipe.

Using painting as an example, the ingredients are the paints, media (oil, turps,varnish, canvas, panel, paper, etc.); while the method is the technique (scumbling, wet-in-wet, dry brush, glazing, etc.).

I don't think either of these necessarily leads to the creation of "Art." One could just as easily be using the "ingredients" and "method" to paint a sign.

Perhaps it all comes down to intent. After all, when Duchamp exhibited a urinal, upside down, and named it "Fountain," he was clearly making art -- even though there was but one "ingredient" and practically no "method." What he did have, in spades, was intent.

So, if we look at your 4 examples, using intent as the determinant, what is revealed?

"A" clearly exhibits intent.

"B" clearly exhibits intent (at least as far as the photographer is concerned -- this one is quite different from the others, in that the photo itself is being evaluated, rather than being merely a window through which we evaluate the content).

"C" clearly exhibits intent.

"D," while exhibiting technical skill and a variety of media does not exhibit intent (other than to show off the technical virtuosity of the vegetable carver). Technically good, but meaningless (intent-less), artifacts are often labeled "kitsch."

There are all sorts of arguments about whether or not kitsch is art, or can become art through the application of some kind of after-the-fact intent (think of Pop Art) -- but I suspect that's a subject better left for another forum.

The Foodist said...


The idea of "intent" is a really good point not yet brought into play in any of my discussions.

This is true in say an example of an artist using, lets say, Chives and snapping a photo of a bunch with good lighting and colored background to enchance the Chives appearance. The artist was using Chives as the main focus as per their intent. Turning a ordinary herb into art.

To date I think Ive realized that the Majority sees that food can be art in every sense of the word, so why is it food is still seen as outside this "realm" by artists? is it because they fear a new young (though food is in no way young) upstart into their community? is it more then that?

Thats the thought Im left with at this point. Why does the "Art Community" still see Food Art/Food outside its ivory walls?

Tyrone B. said...

All this can be construed differently by the 'use' or meaning of each word each individual uses to discuss ART.

That being said, why can all of you dismiss the fourth picture? Because it probably is either 'crap' or comedy to you...fair enough. But that doesn't mean you can dismiss it. Their is whole group of people out their that get their tools from the 'arts and craft' section of hobby stores in order to carve their 'art' of choice in wood, fruit, vegetables, rocks, see where I am going with this?

In the same breath as agreeing what is art, will be the same breath used to say what isn't art...and likewise their will be no 100 percent agreement to either.

I always thought it is only what you think is art, that is art to you, because everyone will never agree with you, and everyone will never disagree with you...maybe some, maybe more or less, but never everyone.

I thought art was in the doing? And what I mean by that is, how many times have you heard people say, 'there is an Art to doing that!'?

Maybe Ruhlman's next book should be 'The Art of A Chef'. Yeah, I think I would to read that...

good topic, dialogue, and discussion.

The Foodist said...


your response leads us back again to a point at which this debate seems to return to again and again.


Some see the macaroni pictures our children make us (myself included IE Macaroni Lizard by my son) as art, while others see it as just macaroni glued to paper.

Its the opinion we form ourselves that allows us to judge what we consider art.

I think now if I were to redo this poll I would need to be more specific in the question. Something like "Which picture do you think most resembles the public majority opinion of what is art" or something like that.

tyronebcookin said...

Hahahaha, Yes probably so!

Gary said...

To follow up on "Why does the "Art Community" still see Food Art/Food outside its ivory walls?"

Food Studies, as an academic discipline is only now beginning to get respect within the hallowed halls. Only six years ago, the Chronicles of Higher Education actually had an article (that engendered a storm of protest) that questioned whether or not "real" scholars should research such topics.

There are still only a few traditional institutions of higher learning that offer programs in Food Studies (two in the US and one in Australia).

So, whether or not food can be art is just part of the broader question of whether or not it's even worthy of discussion.

The Foodist said...


Im only left to wonder then if the reasoning is that eating is a basic human need. Without it we die. We could survive without paintings, sculptures, even with architecture to design beautiful homes/buildings.

So I wonder if thats what prevents "them" from accepting that food can go beyond a basic need.

But thanks for the info, good stuff.

Jezebel said...

I used my aesthetic to make my choice.
I choose B bc thats the picture I was drawn to. The colors and perspective (ie: the closeness and angle the photo was taken at) is what drew me in.

Although food art wise all the other photos did apply. But they caused other responses. If I was going to choose a more Food Art appropriate photo I wanted one with a little more umph. Some of the photos you have posted in the past qualify for that (like the bacon swings, the gel egg, etc).

The last photo brings up a huge debate in the art community. Art vs Craft. One that has killed me in the past teaching children art usually gets brought down to that craft level at times and not on a Artistic level. Especially around gift giving holidays. It's about creating cute compositions for representation. When it should be more facilitating children in learning how to use different mediums & materials, techniques and fostering their own individual expression. Ah! frustrating :S cookie cutters vs hand molding...

dunno if anyone can appreciate this perspective..but there it is

gary allen said...

This discussion is beginning to remind me of Julia Child's remark, ""It's so beautifully arranged on the plate -- you know someone's fingers have been all over it."

Nonetheless, I'll stick my fingers in again.

Michael Ruhlman may have made the essential distinction in this "is-it-art" question. In his piece on Masa, he wrote, "Only when a chef changed the way you saw the world, through cooking, did food truly become art, and that was rare indeed."

Art changes us as no mere craftsmanship can. After one has seen a Monet haystack, all the haystacks in the world are miraculously transformed -- because the viewer has been transformed.

Given this distinction, only photos "B" and "C" are art, because having seen them pomegranates and cakes look different to us. In photo "A," there is no transformative moment, no "AHA!" -- just a pretty presentation of nice ingredients.

The Foodist said...

"Art changes us as no mere craftsmanship can. After one has seen a Monet haystack, all the haystacks in the world are miraculously transformed -- because the viewer has been transformed."

Another excellent point, mentaly maybe we reference what we see to something we saw as beautiful at one point, thus making what we see seem "pretty".

"Given this distinction, only photos "B" and "C" are art, because having seen them pomegranates and cakes look different to us. In photo "A," there is no transformative moment, no "AHA!" -- just a pretty presentation of nice ingredients."

Also another good point, A is mearly the mixing of ingredients to create something appealing to the eye. While the pomegranates photo leaves my eyes to linger longer and look at detail thats shown.

Thanks again Gary, hope you chime in more often!