Cover Photo: Flora Hanitijo

Art and food: what could be a better combination? These artists show off their culinary proficiency in their self-constructed cookbooks, inspired by their own artistic tendencies

Although art and food are made in entirely different spaces, the two still find a way to get together. In the eyes of artists, the creation of food is another avenue for artistic expression. 

Read more: Food And Art Collide At Janice Wong Singapore

Contemporary artists have often used food to make political, economic, and social statements. From opening restaurants as art projects to crafting sculptures from edible materials, artists have harmonised the two wonderfully. 

Arguably, the first artist in the modern era to have come up with the idea that the preparation and consumption of food can be considered art is Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. The Futurist movement led by Marinetti and other artists in 1909 thought cooking and dining, central to everyone’s daily lives, should be central to their artistic ideals. 

In more recent times, renowned Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija joined forces with Finnish chef Antto Melasniemi to construct a cookbook featuring unconventional and oftentimes unique dishes including curry pizza and ice cream with fish sauce. 

Tiravanija, like many artists, finds common ground between food and art, incorporating their own art styles into the creation and presentation of their dishes.

Here are the artists who have made a statement with food and art:

1. Rirkrit Tiravanija - Bastard Cookbook

No stranger to food, Rirkrit Tiranavija cites food as an ongoing presence in his works. Growing up in his grandmother’s kitchen in Thailand, he is adept at cooking, even teaching his students how to make his signature pad Thai at his former exhibition space on West 127th Street. 

He sees cooking as creating an art piece.

“As I mixed the sauce and stir-fried the noodles, I explained to the students all the different elements that went into that work—the various influences and layers that could easily be missed,” Rirkrit said. Every layer of cooking was likened to the layers of an art piece. 

A rich collection of texts, photo essays, and culinary scenarios, Rirkrit’s Bastard Cookbook questions the meaning of authenticity. Edited by independent curator and writer Lola Kramer, Rirkrit teamed up with Antto Melasniemi to create interesting culinary experiments.

More than just a cookbook, it is a manifesto for multiculturalism in disguise. It is a form of resistance to the ever-present ideas of nationalism and xenophobia. An homage to co-creation, the cookbook is a compilation of various dishes from all over the world, placed together in one place, without losing their originality. 

Get the cookbook on Amazon.

2. Esther Choi - Le Corbuffet: Edible Art and Design Classics

Multidisciplinary artist and writer Esther Choi is an assistant professor in the Departments of Criticism and Curatorial Practices, Photography, and the Interdisciplinary Masters in Art, Media, and Design Program at the Ontario College of Art and Design.

Choi grew up cooking traditional Korean food with her Korean-native grandmother, spawning her love for gastronomy. 

In 2019, she published Le Corbuffet, which has since become New York Magazine’s Most Giftable Coffee-Table Books of 2019. Home-cooking and avant-garde art come together in this unique cookbook.

In her cookbook, she creates edible interpretations of modern and contemporary sculptures, paintings, and architecture. The self-taught cook was inspired to create this cookbook after hosting a series of dinner parties for her friends.

With all the photographs in the book taken artfully by Choi, an assembly of dishes inspired by the combination of curiosity about art and design are sure to fascinate guests at the dinner table. 

Get the cookbook on Amazon.

3. Dorothy Iannone - Dorothy Iannone: A Cookbook

Self-taught painter and literature major Dorothy Iannone’s works are primarily focused on eroticism. Since the 1960s, her art has become distinct for its uncensored portrayal of sexuality. 

After meeting Swiss artist Dieter Roth. She moved with him from Boston to Europe and stayed with him as his partner, collaborator, and subject. To immortalise their partnership and union, she created a recipe book in 1968.

The recipe book was also a scrapbook and sketchbook for the creative Iannone. A Cookbook is the uncensored, expressive union of pleasant cooking with the autobiography of a woman in love translated onto paper. 

Filled with elaborately decorated pages and patterned designs, Iannone showered the cookbook with her signature art style. Personal sentences can be found among the lists of ingredients, disclosing the jubilations and trails of her life between the recipes. 

“In my atelier, I worked on the Cookbook on a drawing table, and when I had had enough of that, I resumed painting one of my large canvases,” writes Iannone in the first few pages of the newly printed facsimile.

The publication is a facsimile of the 1969 original, now sold with a dust jacket specially designed by Iannone. 

Get the cookbook on Amazon.

4. Olafur Eliasson - Studio Olafur Eliasson: The Kitchen

Olafur Eliasson is famous for his giant sun at Tate Modern. Another passion this Icelandic-Danish artist has, apart from sculpting large-scale installation art with elemental materials such as light and water, is food.

Eliasson established Studio Olafur Eliasson in Berlin in 1995 as a laboratory for spatial research. It has since expanded into a space where artists, employees, and guests gather. Every day, the artist discusses creative ideas over lunch together with his team around a long wooden table to cook a communal lunch. 

The Kitchen was thus spawned from a shared interest in cooking from creative, culinary minds in Eliasson’s studio. 

The cookbook comprises over 100 vegetarian recipes for every cook to enjoy. It is a celebration of the beauty of food and the joy of eating. Infused with metaphysical ponderings and haunting poetry, discover the art of cooking and eating in a creative environment with this cookbook.

Get the cookbook on Amazon.

5. Jackson Pollock - Dinner with Jackson Pollock: Recipes, Art & Nature

Legendary American painter and a pioneer of the abstract expressionist movement Jackson Pollock also dabbled in food, along with his wife, Lee Krasner. 

Best known for his action paintings, Pollock dripped paint onto canvas to convey the intensity of movement. To the world, he was a master painter, but with his wife, a gardener, baker, and dinner-party host. 

 

Along with his wife, they lived a secluded, peaceful life in the Springs, creating an extensive list of recipes that embody their creative outlook. Planting, gathering, fishing, and clamming for fresh ingredients connected Pollock to nature, inspiring many of his greatest works. 

Dinner with Jackson Pollock: Recipes, Art & Nature features recipes collected from handwritten pages by Lee, Jackson, and his mother, Stella. 

Author Robin Lea brings together all these carefully crafted recipes with her photographs, including still lives inside the Pollock-Krasner home to present this exquisite cookbook.

Get the cookbook on Amazon.

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