• Brigitte et Chloe

An artistic flavour

Updated: Dec 28, 2020

The link between art and gastronomy has always federated a public of amateurs or connoisseurs as sources of pleasure and refinement. Two fields, as close as they are different, which have evolved together over time. This is how, throughout history, these disciplines have been raised to the same rank.

But what is the real situation?

Portrait of Rudolph II by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

During the Renaissance in Europe, an artistic and culinary revival takes place. This period of innovation sees a prodigious change in the arts and in the way we eat.

The fascination for Italy leads to great developments in the arts of the table. Francis I orders pewter, silver, gold and earthenware plates; Murano glasses appear on all the tables of Europe. The European royal courts, that see in sweet pastry elegance and refinement, are quick to rival in this field. Sumptuous, life-size sugar sculptures are made by the workshops of the great masters Pietro Tacca and Giambologna.

In Northern Europe, still lifes invade the workshops of 17th century painters. The attention to detail, the richness of the colour palettes, the delicacy of the compositions and their originality delight the nobility and the merchants for whom they are intended. Rudolf II and his commission from Arcimboldo is a perfect illustration of this.

Although evolving in parallel, these two almost separate fields have so far only made reference to each other through the use of punctual concepts that they borrowed from each other sporadically.

It is during the 20th century that the two disciplines truly begin to mix genres.

From the 1970s onwards, with the Nouvelle Cuisine, visuals, appearance and dressing become central to the preoccupations of haute cuisine. The links between gastronomy and plastic arts become closer, the chef become an artist. The process of culinary presentation involves the use of the fundamentals of art: line, form, colour, texture, space and proportion. Art thus opens up the creative field of gastronomy and flatters the retina as much as the palate. It is a matter of nourishing oneself with art, tasting it, savouring it and experiencing pleasure, sensations and emotions. Like a canvas, gastronomy must offer a line that seems obvious, without effort, without betraying the amount of work done beforehand to make the dish.

Reciprocally the arts of the table, very present in the works of contemporary artists, invite themselves at all levels: they are artworks with Daniel Spoerri the inventor of "Eat Art", social and political commitment with Antoni Miranda and his FoodCultura project, or culinary illustrations in the cookbook (or erotic book?) Les Diners de Gala by Salvador Dali.

Culinary illustration Les Diners de Gala by Salvador Dali

However, a difference persists between art and gastronomy: the challenge of time. The vocation of art remains to transcend the human condition. Gastronomy, on the other hand, remains ephemeral.

Fundamental difference? Nothing is less certain!

This difference fades with contemporary art. Cattelan's banana, the buzz of December 2019, a culinary subject certainly, but above all an ode to the ephemeral, and not only that... A sharp critic, this provocative work has above all brought contemporary art, which usually submits to the gaze of the initiated, to the general public. It has transported, indignant, inflamed.

The banana by the artist Maurizio Cattelan

This is how today artists invite people to an experience, a feeling, a state, a thought, a short time. Visual art takes the form of installations, performances. It has a deadline just like the dishes we eat. Some people now consider art as an accumulation of experiences rather than by the capacity of the works to stand time.

What does the future hold in store for us?

A path is open to serve the eye as well as the palate, two disciplines that still have a lot to bring to each other. The paths are multiplying as many institutions such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, to name but one, are now betting on seducing aesthetes and gourmets.

And you for the festivities, will you be a Chef or an Artist?