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Interpreting Delicious

I fell in love with Willem Kalf’s painting, below, after watching the ArtBabble video In the Gallery: Mark Doty. Mark is a poet who toured the gallery and talked with staff about various works in the galleries and how we see paintings. The way he described the work was particularly appealing to me.

And you can see how, I mean, it’s painted, this bravura, I mean this coil and the light and then the incredible translucency of the peeled fruit. It’s hard to imagine now how it must have looked... Well, we are always going to be looking at and celebrating that the stuff of the world, you know.

Still Life with a Chinese Porcelain Jar by Willem Kalf

Still Life with a Chinese Porcelain Jar by Willem Kalf

Recently, this work  has caught my attention again, as I’ve had the opportunity to spend a bit of time in the galleries here at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. I love the process of “getting to know” a work of art; the way it becomes like a familiar friend, and yet somehow, each time completely delightful and new.  It has me thinking about what catches my attention in each one, and some similarities between the very disparate works that I love. The first thing to come to mind? FOOD.

Some of my favorite works of art, both in this museum and elsewhere, feature fruit prominently. I suppose this could be attributed to “celebrating the stuff of the world,” as Mark Doty said. Undeniably, there is a universal connection between the human experience and the pleasure of eating good food. Artists have used food extensively as symbols in their work throughout the history of painting. For me, it has to do with the beauty of so many things we eat. I am amazed by the endless interpretation of something as simplistic as a bowl of apples.

Here are a few of my favorite food-related works of art from around the country.

I saw this painting in a Gauguin exhibition at the Met. It’s one of my favorites of Gauguin’s, both in style and subject, and I came to appreciate it more after I learned about his body of work and influence on the painters of his time in Gauguin and the Generation of the 1890s.

Two Tahitian Women with Mangoes by Paul Gauguin

Two Tahitian Women with Mangoes by Paul Gauguin

I originally was introduced to the work of Ellsworth Kelly by way of his color field paintings. But the images I can’t get out of my head are his simple line drawings of fruit.

Apples by Ellsworth Kelly

Apples by Ellsworth Kelly

And finally, for something completely different, there is something so jubilant and inviting about the cherry perched atop the spoon in this famous sculpture from Minneapolis.

Spoonbridge and Cherry, by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen

Spoonbridge and Cherry, by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen

Needless to say, I also loved listening to Alice Waters of Chez Panisse speak about food and nutrition when she was here last year.

What works of art with food do you love?

Filed under: Art, Musings

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