An old favourite, which I was privilaged to see before me in the modern section, was Claes Oldenburg’s Ouefs Vulcania (1964). Ouefs Vulcania is an egg dish, paired with what looks like fried somethings. Oldenburg experimented a lot with soft sculpture, constructing oversized food items like pizza, burgers and other uber-american foodstuffs in fabrics like vinyl. I quite like his philosophy:
“I am for the U.S Government Inspected Art, Grade A art, Regular Price art, Yellow Ripe art, Extra Fancy art, Ready-to-eat art, Fully cleaned art, Spend less art, Eat better art, Ham art, pork art, chicken art, tomato art, banana art, apple art, turkey art, cake art, cookie art…” – Claes Oldenburg
Also in the American food game, artist Sharon Core interprets Wayne Thiebaud’s paintings of cafeteria food in her series Thiebaud. The piece Pie Counter (2003) is a photographic rendition of Thiebaud’s painting. Core painstakingly replicated the image by cooking the food herself and styling it to match his work, essentially making his work come to life, but then transforming it back to a two dimensional form.
In a dreamier realm of food, Mahomi Kunikata played on Otaka, the culture of sexually explicit manga, to explore her own insecurities with regards to eating and being ‘chubby’. Her piece Maho Sushi Favourite Assortment (2006) shows naked ladies in Superflat style, painted in acrylic on pieces of sushi. Kunikata’s painting Kisa-Chan and Maki-Chan’s Super Cold Ice Cream Play Set (2008) was also on display and is a dark but fantastical coming together of food and sex.
At Frieze, I had to hunt for my food art. Christian Molstad’s Sandwich Grid warmed my heart with his collage-like rendition of, in my opinion, one of the most modest and friendly meals, featuring Swiss cheese and prosciutto, and lettuce and red onion open sandwiches. Layering paper and fixed with staples, he used marbling to get effect of fat running through meat, and singed the edges of the paper to ‘toast’ the bread.
Less subtle was Rirkrit Tiravanija’s silver sausage installation – a giant metal rack housing 60 sausages going for $500 each (selling out on the first day of Frieze, during a sausage sizzle to celebrate Dieter Roth and David Weiss and all the other great absurdist sausage artists). Tiravanija is famous for his banquet installations that explore community and the social aspect of eating. I am kicking myself for missing his curry lunch at MoMA in February (but you can see pictures in ‘MoMA Edibles & Inedibles‘).
Frieze’s meat-centric pieces had me craving protein. And I found myself in good hands – what it lacked in food art, Frieze made up for in its delicious selection of food in its (best and) edible form: Roberta’s pizza, Fat Radish salads, The Standard Biergarten sausages and Sant Ambroeus sandwiches, as well as food trucks outside.
We washed down our arty appetite with Van Leauwen’s ice cream, a delicious creation of Melbourne folk, sitting by the Hudson River in the afternoon sun. Frieze wins.