Summer of Art – Food Art at Dulwich Picture Gallery

philip haas' four seasons sculptures in front of dulwich picture gallery

Philip Haas’ ‘The Four Seasons’ at Dulwich Picture Gallery

The Summer of 2012 must surely rank as one of the greatest London has ever known.  Not only have we had the excitement and pride of hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games but there has been a wealth of cultural entertainment as well. Museums and art galleries around the Capital have pulled out all the stops to put on interesting and exciting exhibitions and make sure there is something for everyone.

‘Me Dates’

I’ve taken advantage of the culture on offer and have spent the Summer taking myself off on a series of ‘Me Dates’ – time for myself with a bit of culture thrown in.  The first was to the Bauhaus exhibition at the Barbican which I wrote about in Lessons from the Bauhaus: Time for Play.

I’ve also been to see British Design 1948–2012: Innovation in the Modern Age at the V&A which showcased British creativity and innovation in design and an inspiring exhibition at Tate Britain called Another London which featured photographs of London by international photographers taken between 1930 and 1980.

Andy Warhol: The Portfolios & Philip Haas: The Four Seasons

What I’ve loved about my ‘Me Dates’ is the opportunity to reflect on creativity and be inspired.  Today my ‘Me Date’ was to the Dulwich Picture Gallery in South East London where I saw Andy Warhol: The Portfolios as well as Philip Haas’ amazing ‘Four Seasons’ fibreglass statues on the front lawn of the gallery.

Food Art

What struck me most about the Warhol and Haas exhibitions was the different approaches of the artists towards food, always a favourite subject of mine.

The Four Seasons

Spring - part of the Four Seasons by Philip Haas at Dulwich Picture Gallery

Spring

Philip Haas’ ‘The Four Seasons’ statues took my breath away. Standing at over 4 metres tall, they are giant-sized, colourful, fun and very creative. With imagination and wit, Haas has recreated flowers, fruits and vegetables out of fibreglass and fashioned them into statues inspired by Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s Renaissance paintings of the four seasons. You can’t help feeling amused as you walk closer and realise that the bulbous face you saw from afar is actually a collection of autumn squashes.

What is amazing about The Four Seasons statues is just how life-like everything looks. The fruits and vegetables are all voluptuous, bursting with vitality and colour. You want to reach out and touch them. The statue of Autumn features squashes for cheeks and bunches of black grapes for hair. Spring has a collar of wheat, earrings of garlic and a face comprised of peaches, pears, cherries and a marrow for a nose.

Andy Warhol: The Portfolios

andy warhol's campbells soup cans
Inside the gallery, the Andy Warhol exhibition continued the theme of food in the form of pop art prints. First up was the famous Campbell’s Soup cans which made Andy Warhol’s name as a modern artist. Ten prints line the wall, two rows of five, each print featuring a different flavour of Campbell’s Soup.  Apart from the banality of the subject matter, the red and white prints are striking hanging on the gallery wall.  They resembled a supermarket shelf and were made to illustrate Andy Warhol’s point that art galleries were like supermarkets.

andy warhol's Grapes D.D.

Grapes D.D.

The other Warhol food prints are Grapes D.D. and Space Fruit: Still Lifes.  What brings these prints to life is Warhol’s experimentation with screenprinting techniques, and his use of collage and hand-drawn lines. And, of course, his use of colour, which is bold and experimental.

The interesting thing about both Andy Warhol and Philip Haas is that they both focused on the concept of an image or a statue and they had other people actually print or build it for them.

Art and Experimentation

By the end of the exhibition I came away with the clear feeling that art is fun. Art is bright and colourful.  And art is often about experimentation, pushing the boundaries, changing the way we see the world around us. Every now and then it’s good to be reminded that there’s a different way to view everyday objects, including food, and that anything and everything can be made into art. All you need is a good idea.

Andy Warhol: The Portfolios ends 16 September.

Photo of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup cans – Thanks to wallyg on Flickr.com
Image of Andy Warhol’s Grapes D.D – Thanks to Christies.com

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