FEAST FOR THE EYES

27.10.19

Today I visited the photographers Gallery in London, just as I happened to be in town. The exhibition Feast for the Eyes – The story of Food in Photography that I viewed isn’t particularly relevant to me currently but as usual it was thought provoking.

Feast for the Eyes – The Story of Food in Photography

This explores the history of food photography through many different photographers including, Nan Goldin, Martin Parr, Man Ray, Cindy Sherman, Wolfgang Tillmans and Weegee. From an exhibition point of view it was interesting to see the variety of genre that was representing here food photography, from fine-art, commercial and scientific images, photojournalism and fashion as well as how they do this.

The exhibition is organised around 3 themes: Still Life which traces food photography’s relationship to a popular genres in painting featuring the traditional and contemporary. Around the Table looks at the rituals that take place around eating of food and the cultural identities represented by the food and people we eat with. Playing with Food showcases photography which is funny and witty.

Of the images I viewed I was particularly taken with:

Weegee’s silver gelatin print taken in New York and turns the diner into a character:

(Feast for the Eyes – The Story of Food in Photograph, 2019)

 (Signed Magnum Collection Poster, 2019.)

Photographs of human interactions with food tell us also about cultures, identities and social values. The following photographs are literally playing with food, sometimes shifting their meaning:

 (Robert Cumming Invents the Photograph, 2019)

Thus is photographer that I will research more; here he is playing with the viewer’s perception and is subverting reality, but you have to really look to see this. I gather that this is one of his trademarks and am interested to discover how else he does this.

Robert Doiseau is similarly playful in this image of Picasso about to eat:

 (Robert Doisneau todas, 2019)

Here again you have to look twice to see how the visual trick has occurred.

I have previously researched the work of Rinko Kawauchi a contemporary Japanese photographer and was excited to see two of her photographs for the first time. This photograph is typical of her style, elegant, minimal, shallow depth of focus or blurred and often of everyday subjects:

  (Rinko Kawauchi, untitled 2004)

I particularly liked the clean sharp style of Irving Penn in this image “Frozen foods” 1977:

 

(Borrelli-Persson,2015)

Here he is understated as usual, but also careful to catch the fruit just as it was beginning to thaw and soften.

Some of the still life’s subvert the genre. I found this image by Roe Ethridge interesting as he has created what initially looks like a traditional still life and yet he has actually sliced the fruits for visual effect not for eating; whilst the plates are traditional the presentation of the fruit is almost cubist.

(Roe Ethridge, 2019)

Here Strand seems to also have been influenced by cubism, apparently this was one of his first attempts at abstract aesthetic.

Photogravure

(Lumiere, 2019)

Edward Steichen’s image below was a commission by a silk company to create patterns for scarves. It’s interesting that he has chosen the cubed form of sugar as combined with the spherical moth balls it forms an effective abstraction; please excuse the reflections in the image I have had to use a snap I took of it at the exhibition as I ant find it on line)

Moth Balls and sugar cubes (1927)

Weston has reduced this pepper to form and shadow, in fact a sculptured form and in doing so could be mistaken for a human form.

(Edward Weston, 2019)

These photographs were contrasted by a much more traditional one by Henri Cartier-Bresson, On the Banks of the Marne:

   (Henri Cartier-Bresson, 2019)

I was surprised about the layers of meaning that photographing food can uncover, for instance how we live, values, traditions, as well as be used for abstraction, form, and aesthetics. I will look at food as a subject matter quite differently from now on and of course what I’ve learnt will transfer to other subject matters.

References:

Borrelli-Persson, L. (2015) Irving Penn’s Unforgettable Food Photography in Vogue. At: https://www.vogue.com/article/irving-penn-food-photography-vogue-archive (Accessed on 7 November 2019)

Edward Weston, Pepper No. 30, 1930 · SFMOMA (2019) At: https://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/39.208/ (Accessed on 7 November 2019)

Feast for the Eyes – The Story of Food in Photography (2019) At: https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibition/feast-eyes-story-food-photography (Accessed on 7 November 2019)

Henri Cartier-Bresson, On the banks of the Marne, France (2019) At: https://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/82.162/ (Accessed on 7 November 2019)

Lumiere » Blog Archive » Paul Strand 2019) At: https://lumieregallery.net/197/paul-strand/ (Accessed on 7 November 2019)

Robert Cumming Invents the Photograph (2019) At: https://aperture.org/blog/robert-cumming-invents-photograph/ (Accessed on 7 November 2019)

Robert Doisneau todas las impresiones artísticas y pinturas en REPRODART.COM (2019) At: https://www.reprodart.com/a/doisneau-robert.html?sfl=1&INCLUDE=LIST (Accessed on 7 November 2019)

Roe Ethridge – Works – Gladstone Gallery (2019.) At: https://gladstonegallery.com/artist/roe-ethridge/work/fullscreen (Accessed on 7 November 2019)

Signed Magnum Collection Poster: The Last Resort. New Brighton, England (2019) At: https://shop.magnumphotos.com/products/signed-magnum-collection-poster-the-last-resort-new-brighton-england-martin-parr?variant=33074118926 (Accessed on 7 November 2019)

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