“Art is a form of nourishment,” Susan Sontag wrote in her diary
Art/Fashion/Food/Culture – it’s all one big melting pot. It’s everything I’m interested in and it is all that (along with money) which makes the world go round. So I wasn’t too surprised to find out only recently about the now vintage MoMA Artists’ Cookbook.
In 1977, a pair of art and cuisine enthusiasts, Madeleine Conway and Nancy Kirk, collaborated with New York’s MoMA on The Museum of Modern Art Artists’ Cookbook (public library) — a marvelous compendium of favorite recipes and reflections on food by thirty of the era’s most prominent artists, including Salvador Dalí, Louise Bourgeois, Robert Indiana, Will Barnett, Larry Rivers, Andy Warhol, and Willem de Kooning.
I got a kick out of looking up some of the recipes which I’m not at all planning to make. What interested me was finding out about each of the artists relationship to food.
Of particular Interest:
Andy Warhol, who had collaborated with his mother on a little-known and lovely cookbook(called Wild Raspberries) eighteen years earlier, tells Conway and Kirk that he no longer eats anything out of a can but — a statement that comically dates the book and tragically reminds us of a culinary downturn — believes that “airplane food is the best food.”
In a confession that reminds us just how much Warhol blurred the line between person and persona, just how deliberate he was about the construction of his own myth — this, after all, is such a thoroughly Andy Warhol thing to say — he tells the editors:
I always thought cereals like corn flakes and Rice Krispies were a natural thing — that they came from a cereal bush. He shares a befittingly on-brand recipe:
CAMPBELL’S MILK OF TOMATO SOUP
a 10 oz can Campbell’s condensed tomato soup
2 cans milk
In a saucepan bring soup and two cans milk to a boil; stir. Serve.
Willem de Kooning, in his early seventies at the time, looks back on how his formative years in Holland and his immigrant experience shaped his relationship to food:
Willem de Kooning
It was hard to overeat when I was a boy because when you had dinner, it was always brown beans. We were poor. When I came to America I had never seen so much food in my life! I came to America as stowaway. When I was discovered among the pipes, I became a kind of cabin boy and washed the decks. I got off when we landed in Boston and took a train to New York. I went right to Wall Street. I recognized from the silent movies where the Stock Exchange was.
We went to Hoboken because it was a Dutch, Italian, and German settlement. I got a room, and I got a job as a house painter; America seems to be a land of wonder because, you see, I worked and I made six dollars a day. Then I made nine dollars. In one week I could buy a suit, Thom McAn shoes, sets of underwear. Socks were ten cents a pair and it almost didn’t pay to wash them. You could throw them away! This was such a revelation, such an overflow! Here, everything was so big and had such a style I said, “Oh, hallelujah, here I come.”
The first food I remember eating? A hamburger. Lunchtime I went to a place on River Street and I saw on the bill of fare that I could read “Hamburger,” so I said, “Hamburger. The next day I took a hamburger and on the following day I took a hamburger, and then I thought I’d change and ordered a sirloin of beef and I tried to say it but the waiter gave me a hamburger anyway.
Even as he rose to fame in the art world, De Kooning retained this capacity for delight in the simplest of things and cared little for the snobbish charade of sophistication that all too often bedevils high society. More than half a century after the hamburger experience, he shares his favorite unfussy dressing for cold shrimp, lobster, or crabmeat, made with ingredients one could buy at the most rudimentary convenience store:
KOO’S SEAFOOD SAUCE
Makes 2 ½ cups
8 ounces heavy cream, whipped until stiff
8 ounces mayonnaise
1 ounce cognac
1 ounce sherry
4 tablespoons ketchup
salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl fold mayonnaise gently into the whipped cream with a whisk. Add remaining ingredients and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve.
Endearing, Refreshing & a tad Artistic right?
Source: https://www.brainpickings.org – MoMA Artists’ Cookbook