Walking along the chaotic and narrow paths of Barcelona’s public market, La Boqueria, one cannot help but be overwhelmed with the grand display of fare encompassing the crowd. The bountiful piles of colors and shapes are a feast for the eyes as much as they are a feast for the body. Fruits, vegetables, sweets and flowers of just about every kind are strategically placed like a collage to attract the market goers. After visiting this Spanish gem, it is no surprise why an artist would take advantage of this medium and use it to provide a whole new type of nourishment.
Over the years, people have been using food to make art without realizing, such as macaroni in kindergarten and jack-o-lanterns during Halloween. However, there is a difference between making food into art to be displayed and eaten, and artwork that is created by food items. The art of arranging a dish to be aesthetically pleasing or sculpting baked goods into magnificent pieces is fairly widespread, yet artists have found something else about food that is much more significant. The fascination with food and the portrayal of it in art dates back to a few hundred years ago.
Still life paintings during the Renaissance contain scores of fruits, vegetables and almost anything deemed edible. Well-known examples include Rembrandt’s “Slaughtered Ox” and Caravaggio’s “Basket of Fruits.” Other artists of times past opted for a more original approach. Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimbaldo chose to paint portraits made up of assembled fruit, the result was surreal and whimsical and was a precursor for food art to come.
Food is a tricky medium to create art with, the varied ways of using it span genres and styles. One type of food art is presenting the food as something else according to other props around it. London based photographer Carl Warner has created a quaint Swiss landscape with French bread in place of mountains, the creases and rough texture of the bread astoundingly resembles a mountains’ ridges and rocky surface, while pieces of cheese stood in for boulders along the bottom. Artists may also manipulate the food and transform it, while still preserving some of its original form. Hungarian photographer Tamas Balla creates food art by carving out faces and humorous creatures out of fruits and vegetables, this includes cauliflower sheep and people made of orange skin.