Eat Art as an art movement is still unknown to many, even if its topics are so close to us.


Here are some texts written by a few art historians, museum curators, and artists for your information.


«Far from being a secondary act, nourishing oneself is therefore a fundamental act that sets all our senses into motion, produces social bonds, and poses ethical and aesthetic questions. (...) Food is not only good to eat but it is good to look at, for it is the fruit of a human action, the fruit of history.»

Josette Rasle, curator of the exhibit L'art fait ventre, musée de la Poste, Paris, 2014


«Starting in 1970, the "Eat Art" of Daniel Spoerri, to return to another inevitable reference for artistic expressions of cuisine, invited itself to the table and invented itself "as the expression of a unifying art that considers food and eating issues worthy of integrating in the exclusive world of fine arts." Eat Art was to be understood as "art about food" but literally also as "eating art", with food proper (happenings) and in figurative form (actually executed works) as material for artistic creation. 

Food was exhibited as "food readymades" (Michel Onfray), which places us reflectively, critically, and aesthetically at a good distance from our everyday consumer fare. Table settings (La Table) were also done as picture (tableau), or rather as "snare-pictures", hung vertically on the wall with relief of meals, traces of wine or coffee, crockery, and table decorations left as is, once the curtain of food scene, with its actors, has been lowered.

Tired of his status as an artist, in 1968 the founder of Eat Art opened in Düsseldorf the true "Spoerri Restaurant", a deceptively ordinary establishment devoted to ongoing happenings. An "exotic menu" was built upon excessive flavors or unappetizing dishes (ants, pythons, elephant trunk, bear paws), which served to awaken people's dietary consciousnesses. After a meal was over, one could even buy one's table and obtain a certificate of guarantee signed by the artist, a sort of pardon from the restaurant's owner.

It is impossible to enumerate here all the experimental artistic activities undertaken, which extended beyond the confines of the Restaurant and concerned the "Eat Art Gallery" and the "Éditions Eat Art" publishing company. For just the period between 1970 and 1972, no less than 30 artists (Richard Lindner, Roy Lichtenstein, Dieter Roth, Joseph Beuys, etc.) filed in and out, all of them seduced by the potentialities Eat Art offered for their own creative approaches.

And one would still have to mention the thematic banquets, "digestible art" with the tasting of famous works done in the form of cakes, heightening the vice to the point of making artists consume their own works (Nikki de Saint Phalle, Jacques Villeglé, Raymond Hains) during a meal (Ultima Cena) that celebrated both the tenth anniversary of New Realism and its historical end.»

Jean-Jacques Boutaud, Food Semiologist, Dijon University, 2014

«Like no other artistic category, Eat Art extends the horizons of our sensory perception by directly confronting us with the fundamental human need for the intake of food. In this way, Eat Art is not concerned with epicurean art, but instead revolves around the contemplation of a daily necessity: eating. Social hierarchies and codes, individual preferences and aversions, intimate moments, as well as public presentations, find expression in the basic act of ingesting food. By working directly with foods, artists are actively engaging with existential questions of nutrition, production, and the utilization of food, as well as the significance of eating and cooking as activities capable of creating identity.»

Renate Buschmann, Beate Ermacora, Ulrike Groos, Magdalena Holzhey, Eating the Universe exhibit, 2009


«Does one know the moral effects of food?»

Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher


«Daniel Spoerri was turn by turn a poet, dancer, director, and a publisher before the concept of the trap-picture ushered him into the art milieu, and more particularly into the New Realism movement, of which he was one of the founding members in 1960. The trap-picture (tableau-piège), which froze a momentary state of a table after a meal, turned into a picture by being exhibited vertically on a wall, thus promoting banality to artwork status.

Ten years later, when he opened the Eat Art Gallery in Düsseldorf, he officially launched Eat Art, which had just been named as the expression of an edible art associating performance and production of art objects. But how did the idea of Eat Art really take the shape from its earliest origins, with the trap-pictures, and banquets combining theatre, art, and gastronomy?»

Geraldine Girard-Fassier, Eat Art: a mise en "cène" of life and death


«Eat Art perhaps only poses questions; it is therefore infinitely curious and thus avaricious for the new. It is therefore interested in everything edible or seemingly edible, in worms and insects as well as the swelling materials that stimulate satiety and are thus only gastronomic placebos. It is even interestd in refusing or overfeeding, ie. in anorexia and bulimia. It is convinced that the only possibilities left to human being, now that he has fallen from the cosmic order, is to always pose the wrong questions and to always give the wrong answers.»

Daniel Spoerri, Restaurant Spoerri au Jeu de Paume, 2004

«Food not only good to eat but also good to think with.»

Claude Lévi-Strauss, anthropologist


«Over the years, when preparing this singular triennial, we have also remarked that those artists who are interested in various aspects of the agri-food sector are also interested in the ethical issues associated with the topic. They challenge viewers to consider whether we should not change the way we produce and consume food, whether our way of cultivating the earth in the twenty-first century is not weakening the environment and threatening its equilibrium, whether our way of raising animals should be reconsidered. In the context of today's discussions and concerns around global warming and the risk of pandemics, these artists place their ideas at the center of daily life and current events. »

Marcel Blouin & Geneviève Ouellet (directors), Triennale Orange 2009 - Il Nostro Gusto, Art event of Saint-Hyacinthe


«Manger est devenu un geste politique plus signicatif que celui de voter»

Sylvette Babin, 2004


«Longtemps, l'artiste a aspiré avec ses oeuvres à instaurer des dialogues avec le divin, avec le monde de la nature et avec celui des objets. Avec l'art relationnel, il travaille maintenant à tisser des relations réelles et symboliques entre les individus, à élaborer des modèles de sociabilité en marge des modèles proposés par la culture de masse, qui débiliterait littéralement les liens sociaux. (...)

L'art relationnel demeure éminemment performatif, dans la mesure où il nécessite la participation d'individus et en dépend, les interactions humaines qui sont suggérées, établies, puis retransmises (par écrit, en photos ou autrement) aidant à les définir. (...)

Cette nourriture, de même que les objets en général, sont à considérer comme des vecteurs de relation à l'autre: d'une certaine manière, un objet est tout aussi immatériel qu'un coup de fil; et une oeuvre qui consiste en un dîner autour d'une soupe aussi matérielle qu'une statue. (...)

Les artistes relationnels choisissent généralement des aliments «normaux», du panier d'épicerie, qui sont relativement connus ou familiers, qui sont apprêtés et servis comme il le faut. Ils considèrent plus particulièrement trois de leurs aspects. Premièrement, leur «signification». (...) Ces nourritures, porteuse d'un bagage culturel, aident à soulever des enjeux identitaires, tandis que d'autres servent d'autres problématiques, par exemple politiques, économiques et environnementales. Deuxièmement, leur «bon goût» comme la saveur sucrée qui suscite des formes d'espoir ou d'empathie (...). Troisièmement, les «transactions» dont la nourriture est l'objet sont également considérées. Elle est donnée, échangée ou vendue, le don étant le mode d'échange privilégié. La spécificité de l'art relationnel ne concerne donc pas des types d'aliment, mais bien d'usages.»

Mélanie Boucher et citations de Nicolas Bourriaud, La nourriture en art performatif, 2014

«The new situation in artistic expressions of things culinary concerns, of course, the increasing media coverage, indeed the overload in media coverage, of both the actors in this field and the actions they undertake. Trademarking efforts, which had not so long ago been applied to staple products and which provided material for Pop Art and Andy Warhol when he lined up his Campbell's Soup Cans (1962), have developed exponentially on all figurative levels involving things culinary and, more broadly, food.

The Eat Art we carefully separated out as a creative space with multiple figurative facets (actually executed works, happenings, table settings, and snare pictures, culinary experiments and banquets, galleries, publications, etc.) was squarely set within an artistic approach that was carried out by artists themselves around the central figure of Daniel Spoerri. (...)

The image of cuisine and food is cultivated through the media, both them relating in particular now to the much-talked-about "creative class" (Richard Florida, 2002) and its new forms of sensibility and sociability that express the connection between aesthetic predispositions and new modes of consumption: "fooding", culinary design, sensorial and experimental pursuits, design and conceptualization of private and public space dedicated to food, consumption, etc. An aesthetic constant is magnified via digital resources and the design of professional websites (Nicole Pignier) which star chefs treat with the same care they impart to their cuisine, while amateur blogs celebrate cuisine and foods in a profusion of styles and with a great deal of expressive and creative freedom.»

Jean-Jacques Boutaud, Food Semiologist, Art, cuisine, and their mutual apurtenances, University of Dijon, 2014


Some works around food themes:


Babette's Feast, by Gabriel Axel (Denmark)

La grande bouffe, by Marco Ferreri (France-Italy)

The Lunch Box, by Ritesh Batra (India)

Soul Kitchen, by Faith Akin (Turkey-Germany)

The Banquet, by Tsui Hark (Hong Kong)

Ratatouille, by Brad Bird (United States)

Les saveurs du Palais, by Christian Vincent (France)

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, by Peter Greenaway (Great Britain)

Performances and installations:

«The work presented by Cosimo Cavallaro at the third edition of ORANGE aroused strong feelings. Though its form was startling, it conveyed the ethical notion in masterful fashion, as confirmed by an anxious remark heard over and over during the event: "You can't cover walls with ketchup! That's unacceptable!" Cavallaro's piece, titled I Was Here, invited us to settle scores with our phobias, our proclivities, our disgusts, our childhood memories. And to push this interpretation further would mean looking to psychology and the liberating effects of catharsis. Transfixed by the symbolism of blood, and despite a sense of disgust, viewers felt the need to see, smell, and touch the redolent paste that coated the walls.» 

Marcel Blouin, «Beyond Subversion» Il Nostro Gusto, 2009

«The artistic propositions that were carried out on the basis of gastronomy were going to increase in number and gradually bring in chefs, those who appeared as authors of creative culinary works and had their own signature. Ferran Adrià's 2007 documenta show in Kassel, which was both artistic in nature and overloaded with media, marked a milestone. And when UNESCO recognized the French gastronomic meal as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, star chef Thierry Marx participated in some experiments with the Laboratoire (2008), a research space between art and science.»

Jean-Jacques Boutaud, Food Semiologist, Art, cuisine, and their mutual appartenances, University of Dijon, 2014

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