Food For Thought
A Group Exhibition

March 31 — May 14, 2011


Including works by a wide range of twentieth and twenty-first century artists, Food for Thought: A Group Exhibition surveys a range of photographs that are testament to our insatiable appetite for feasting and photography. The exhibition will include images with food as a common thread ranging from classical still lives to commercial commissions advertising their wares to surreal assemblages. What unites these very disparate registers of photographic production is the camera's seductive power to enliven the objects before it's lens, or conversely, for the objects to appeal themselves to the camera's powers. Amidst well-known masters of the genre such as Irving Penn and Paul Outerbridge, photographers such as Ansel Adams best known for their achievements in other areas line up alongside contemporary artists prepared to push photographs of food to new levels. The comprehensive effect is a feast for the eyes.

Potentially rich in symbolism and offering infinite possibilities of variation for the artist to showcase their skills in design and lighting, imagery of food offers a deep field of possible interpretations. Drawing from the rich history of classical compositions associated with Renaissance Dutch still life painters, photographers such as Julie Blackmon and Paulette Tavormina draw inspiration from this tradition, but in quite different ways. By contrast, with uncanny and often surreal strategies seemingly drawn from Man Ray or Salvador Dalí, Michiko Kon uses food to construct imagery of other classical forms such as musical instruments and clothing. Leslie Gill and Irving Penn both working with Alexey Brodovitch at Harper's Bazaar used the genre to create avant-garde still life imagery. More recently, Jeff Brouws has found inspiration on the flip-side of the advertising process, taking delight in cropping bits of vernacular signage for trompe-l'oeil effects.

Photographic imagery of food is tied to one of our most basic desires: the need for and pleasure of sustenance. No wonder then that it draws on a rich art historical tradition. The visual arts have always been concerned with serving up images of visual delectation. Amidst the unparalleled potential for realism offered by photography — with stunningly clarity, sumptuous colors--such images induce an almost synaesthetic experience: not merely appealing themselves to the eye, they seem to compel tactile and gustatory sensation as well. Such potentially transformative images prove irresistible. With additional works by established masters such as Harry Callahan, Robert Doisneau, William Eggleston and Josef Sudek and contemporary artists such as Holly Andres, Gail Albert Halaban and Kevin Kay to name a few, the exhibition showcases a wide range of variations tied to a classical theme.

The Wall Street Journal
April 9, 2011
William Meyers

Here's a smorgasbord of 37 photographs that treat a variety of foods in many ways. The pictures at Robert Mann date from pictorialist Edwin Hale Lincoln's platinum print "Untitled (Still Life with Grapes)" (1912) to Kevin Kay's three Polaroid images of two naked women and some oranges, all titled "Citrine" (2011). Several pictures are by well-known artists, such as Man Ray's photogravure of a surreal turkey, "Cuisine (Kitchen): From the Portfolio Electricité" (1931); Harry Callahan's "Chicago" (c. 1951), a red, blue and black dye-transfer print that is almost painfully austere; and Josef Sudek's "My Window" (1952), one apple on a plate in front of a fogged window, somehow both enigmatic and wise. From the signs in Berenice Abbott's "Jacob Heymann Butcher Shop, 345 Sixth Avenue, New York" (1938) we learn prime rib roast was selling for 24 cents a pound and the "Very Best Geese" could be had for 20 cents a pound.

Several pictures are by underappreciated photographers like Leslie Gill (1908-1958), whose photogram "Rest for the Stomach" (1935) shows a fish, a fork and a sophisticated imagination, and Fred Stein (1909-1967), whose modernist "Fish Platter, Brittany, France" (1935) has the silvery morsels radiating like petals on a daisy. Midcareer artists Gail Albert Halaban and Holly Andres both have domestic tableaux vivants: In Ms. Halaban's "Untitled (Valentine's kitchen)" (1990-2003), a 30-ish woman prepares a meal; in Ms. Andres's "Abby" (2006), a dutiful young girl brings food to the table. Note the Betty Crocker Cookbook on the windowsill.

The New York Times
March 30, 2011
Florence Fabricant

An exhibition of food photography from the last 80 years or so, including names like Irving Penn and Ansel Adams, shows the artistry and range of the genre. It includes a panorama of food signs by Berenice Abbott, silvery fish in a 1930s French market, and arresting still-life arrangements by Paulette Tavormina and Julie Blackmon inspired by Flemish and Dutch masters.