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The catalogue of the Art and Appetite exhibition held at the Art Institute of Chicago gathers over 100 paintings, sculptures and decorations from the eighteenth to the twentieth century that tell the story of the art and culture of food as seen through the eyes of great American masters.
Among the elegant compositions of biscuits and cakes, baskets overflowing with fruit and tables laden with feasts, the American artists have used food to celebrate as well to criticise their developing society, pointing at its strengths and weaknesses and often bringing to light important issues.
Artists such as Raphaelle Peale highlight the compositional language of still life, bringing it to a forceful aesthetic and material level. John F. Francis highlights bottles of alcohol as a subject in his works, underlining the theme of prohibition in the era in which he lived. In the twentieth century, Andy Warhol addresses the matter of food production for the masses; with his depiction of hamburgers and fries without a human referent he comments on the culture of serialized production. We then come to contemporary artists who address issues such as extreme diets and bio food.
This catalogue captures this interesting exhibition and preserves its importance as an artistic and sociological record of American society in the last centuries.