A few weeks ago, I found out about British Photographer Carl Warner and his foodscapes. Those aren’t clouds, they’re cauliflower. Broccoli trees, mountains of bread, and is that polenta paving? Nope, it’s cumin. Warner has fifteen foodscapes on his site, carlwarner.com.
These vivid and fantastic images really struck a chord online, and not just among food bloggers.
Check out the Google Trends Graph Below.
Prior to 2008, he’s nowhere, then in January, the BBC online does a piece on him, digg and technorati pick it up. Cool. I would like to thank my girlfriend’s mother, who goes by the name of RadBarb, for bringing Warner’s culinary craziness to my attention.
So, these images got me thinking about other food imagery that is not primarily commercial, documentary or incidental. I’ll do a whole post on still life images with food at some point, but Carl Warner’s images made me think specifically of 16th century painter Arcimboldo.
Yeah, that guy. I didn’t remember his name either, so I took a trip to the University of Michigan Fine Arts Library and in short order walked away with a couple books on him. Here are the catalog entries for the books; there are several others.
Arcimboldo created paintings that are called symbolist, and sometimes pre-surrealist; knockoffs are known as Arcimboldesques. Of about 17 -30 known works, many are composed largely of food. There’s a whole essay…holy crappie. I just found UCSD Professor Peter Moyle’s page of citations of all his publications on fish imagery in art. Naturally this includes an essay on Arcimboldo’s piece, Water, which is part of The Elements series.
Looking at this series, and at The Four Seasons series, it’s interesting how different they are from food porn, which is all about the delicious aesthetic of food. With Arcimboldo, the food isn’t food. I mean, that guy’s symbolism has symbolism. More about that another time.
Film maker Stefan Nadelman used slightly less profound symbolism in what he calls the “viral mini-epic short film about war called Food Fight”. Over 1.75 Million views on YouTube. Some might say Food Fight is in poor taste, given the details he manages to convey through sound effects and the fast foods of the world. But Nadelman’s striking use of food to represent war between nations is not only more graphic than I would have thought possible, but also a more successful representation than I would have thought possible.