The Photographers’ Gallery
October 2019 – January 2020
Feast for the Eyes explores the rich history of food as a subject in photography. From basic sustenance to decadent feasts, food awakens the senses and touches both private and public life. Eating is one of the most mundane and profane acts, yet it is also central to our rituals, religions, and celebrations. Food reflects our desires and fantasies; it can stand in for sex, be a signal of status, or engage in our politics. As a subject that is commonly at hand, food has been and continues to be widely depicted. Today, photographing your food has never been more popular, and through photo-sharing on social media, photography has become part of the dining experience. And photographs of food—much like food itself—can raise deep-seated questions about issues such as family, tradition, domesticity, wealth, poverty, gender, race, pleasure, revulsion, and consumption.
Featuring photographs from across fine art, fashion, photojournalism, social networking, and advertising, Feast for the Eyes is an international survey that delights in the most ordinary of subjects. This exhibition covers the rich history of how food has been photographed and invites the viewer through three dynamic themes to investigate food’s complexity of form and meaning. “Still Life” looks at the enduring artistic tradition first taken from painting. This section examines how artists have followed, borrowed from, or subverted the genre, and how it resonates on a series of different registers over time. “Around the Table” looks at the ritual and belonging that take place when food is shared, and also the values and cultural identity reflected in images of food. “Playing With Your Food” shows, through a range of expression, how when humor and play are combined with the most common of subject matters, the resulting works hold our lives and times up to the light for examination.
Feast for the Eyes brings together a number of well-known artists, including Irving Penn, Stephen Shore, Cindy Sherman, Nobuyoshi Araki, Paul Strand, and Martin Parr, among others.
The exhibition is curated by Susan Bright, author of Feast for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Photography, and Denise Wolff, Senior Editor at Aperture Foundation.