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American Painting, Culture and Cuisine

January 09, 2014
Art & Appetite

When is a turkey not a turkey? Why, when it’s a metaphor, of course! And turkey as a metaphor is one of the first concepts that takes you by surprise at the Art Institute of Chicago’s fascinating exploration into American culture and cuisine with its ongoing exhibition Art & Appetite. Upon entering, you encounter Roy Lichtensteins’s 1961 comic book ‘Turkey’, juxtaposed with Norman Rockwell’s idyllic 1942 series of Thanksgiving dinner oil paintings, entitled ‘Freedom from Want’. Brainchild of AIC curator Judith Barter, the exhibition convincingly posits the theory that food is never just food, but rather a series of socio-political meanings layered amongst generous helpings of history, belief, custom and ritual, and seasoned with a little levity on top.

With more than 100 paintings, posters and artifacts like dinnerware and teapots drawn from the C.18th onwards, the show deftly highlights the change in food production and attitudes from homegrown to mass-produced. And as a bonus, don’t miss the ‘online cookbook’ created by the AIC as an augment to the show, with heaps of vintage recipes as well as new ones from current culinary stars, including local legend Graham Elliot’s Seafood Chowder, and Heather Terhune’s divine Pumpkin Mousse Tart. Bon Art & Appetite!

Art Institute of Chicago / 111 South Michigan Ave / +1 312 443 3600 / until Jan 27 /