Pop Art and the Food Landscape

Following on from my previous post a few weeks ago, another example painting from the Pop Art movement and how it highlighted mass consumption and consumerism is ‘Food landscape’, painted by Erro in 1964. His painting focuses on repetition and obsessive crowding of foodstuffs. It represents the supermarket consumer society and how food is not imperfect or naturally beautiful anymore but part of a standardized, industrial production process. (Malaguzzi, S. (2008) p59) The way the food is crowded together mirrors the display of goods in a supermarket.

Erro, Food Landscape, 1964


Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year opens for 2014

It’s back! The Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2014 is open for entries. What is great about this competition is how it celebrates the art of food photography worldwide and for its third year they anticipate even more entries! The category I’m most looking forward to seeing submissions for is ‘Food Bloggers’. This new category welcomes images that complement a blog and bring the written word to life. With food photography being used to illustrate recipes, now more so online, I hope this category will receive a range of excellent entries, making it very hard for the judges; which this year includes David Loftus and Donna Hay.

As still life paintings, black and white photographs and retro cookbooks can influence food photographs today, I’ve also been writing short excerpts on the history of food photography for the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year blog, which you can read here.


Still Life Painters in the 20th Century

When looking at food as a subject in photography, it’s interesting to consider that still life painters in the 20th century continued to paint food objects, despite photography becoming more popular as a creative medium. In particular, Paul Cezanne focussed his attention on the artistic possibilities in the still life genre.

Paul Cézanne, Still-Life with Teapot, 1869

A switch from realist paintings, the subject of the painting did not necessarily have to resemble anything that actually existed. The general approach to still life painting of the time “tried to probe the potential of the painting medium by experimenting with form and colour, flattening three-dimensional perspective and simplifying composition” (Malaguzzi, S. 2008, p57) Later in the 20th century, food in still life paintings was depicted as a symbol of consumer society. “The industrialized production of food and its display in supermarkets are seen as tangible signs of the violence of capitalism.” (Malaguzzi, S. 2008, p57)  Rather than focus on the ingredients like previous still life paintings, packaging and brand labels featured heavily. In particular, the Pop art movement in the 1960s in the United States “denounced the excesses of consumerism, and ironically, celebrated industrially produced food as a primary expression of mass goods whose consumption is obsessively encouraged by advertising.” (Malaguzzi, S. (2008) p57) This can be seen in the well-known work of Andy Warhol, in his depiction of Campbell’s soup cans.

Andy Warhol, 200 Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962