Feast for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Photography
Curated by Susan Bright and Denise Wolff
Photographs of food are rarely just about food. They hold our lives and time up to the light. Food can signify a lifestyle or a nation, hope or despair, hunger or excess. Ultimately, food is not only about literal taste, but also Taste with a capital T—both the lifestyles we aspire to and the building blocks of culture itself. —Susan Bright
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.
In addition to the photographs, the accompanying cookbooks will give a supplementary visual history, providing vital context to the framed works and illustrating exciting advances in printing and graphic design, revealing how photography changed the function of the cookbook.
Throughout, the wall text brings clear insight and intelligence to this spectacular subject, and traces the progression of the genre from the late nineteenth century to present day through artists including Roger Fenton, Nickolas Muray, Victor Keppler, Edward Weston, Irving Penn, Stephen Shore, Cindy Sherman, Wolfgang Tillmans, Nobuyoshi Araki, Sophie Calle, and Martin Parr, to name a few. From the banality of the diner breakfast captured by Stephen Shore to the allegorically dense still lifes of Laura Letinsky, from Roger Fenton’s elaborate nineteenth-century setups to the cookbooks of the 1960s, food—and how it’s photographed—defines how we live and how we value ourselves, and, at its very best, connects us to our dreams and desires.
This exhibition includes approximately 100 framed photographs in a variety of sizes. Also included will be classic cookbooks to be displayed in vitrines.
Please contact Annette Booth at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 946-7128 to discuss pricing.
This exhibition is available March 2018 through 2021.