Media: Food art

I saw the coolest thing last week. Pastry chef Caitlin Freeman has been baking some actual works of art:

Look familiar? It's a Mondrian cake! Absolutely amazing.

Piet Mondrian pioneered the Neo-Plasticism style, dividing up white space with black vertical and horizontal lines, and filling some parts with three primary colours. I have a tendency to look for the deeper meaning in everything arty, but I'm happy to take this at face value. To me, this style represents the decisive aesthetic of the epoch.

Composition Two in Red, Blue and Yellow, Piet Mondrian

Decisive, and easily-bake-able. But they're all the way in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art cafe. Damn.

For edible art a little closer to home (for UK readers at least), there's been a lot going on in Blighty lately. One pretty extravagant edible art venture came from Tate and Lyle last month, when they were launching their Taste Experience range of cane sugars.  Fourteen cake artists, including the rather incredible Sarah Hardy Cakes (check this out, she makes photorealism for the kitchen), spent almost 3,000 hours creating a hotel made entirely from cake.

All of the eight rooms were inspired by a different type of sugar in the new range. So in the dark muscovado sugar room, there was a Caribbean theme with cakey treasure chests. You get the idea - you can read a bit more here.

Over in Birmingham, Annabel De Vetten-Petersen of Conjurer's Kitchen has created this:

Impressive stuff - look at the little marzipan frames!

This all looks a lot more inviting than my first experiences of edible art. I could never quite master sucking the paint half way up the straw before blowing it on the page, so always ended up with a mouth full of paint, too embarrassed to admit I couldn't do it, and swallowing it. Play group 'MARE.

Anywho, it's kinda nice not to look for the deeper meaning once in a while.

I'm hungry.

Style: Hyperrealism

Ok, so I wasn't entirely sure about the difference between hyperrealism, photorealism and trompe l'oeil. My good friend Google tells that photorealism is a painting that looks like a photograph, like this:

(Richard Estes, Staten Island Ferry with a Distant View of Manhattan and New Jersey)

And hyperrealism is basically a HD version of photorealism, like this:

(Leng Jun, Portrait*)

Yeah, that's a painting. With oils and a brush. Pretty impressive.

Trompe l'oeil, which translates to 'deceive the eye', is different. Artists who want to take a 2D canvas and give it a 3D subject paint in trompe l'oeil. Escaping Criticism, by Pere Borrell del Caso, is one of the most famous examples of this (and boy, do I love an evocative title like that):

(Pere Vorrell del Caso, Escaping Criticism)
Pretty different subject matter, huh?

Which do you prefer?

In my personal opinion, a work of art doesn't show the subject, but the artist's representation of the subject. If you're looking at a still life, you're not seeing apples; you're seeing the artist's interpretation of apples. When artists try their damnedest to reproduce a photograph in paint, they interpret photography, not reality. As technically astounding as hyperrealist art is, I like an artwork that gives me a little insight into he who painted it.

Just my opinion though.

*I think that's what it's called. 

Sitter: Margaret Thatcher

Are your social media feeds still buzzing with (often pseudo-)political opinion in the aftermath of Margaret Thatcher's death? Mine are, and there only seem to be two opinions out there.

Not exactly being a political buff myself, I initially thought this polarisation meant the debaters were, well, chatting shit (not to mention the fact that the oldest of my close friends wouldn't have reached primary school by the end of her time in 10 Downing Street).

But considering her portrayal in art, it seems she really did - and still does - divide opinion, forcing everyone into opposing camps. This includes artists - take a look at the range of interpretations below.

As an interested member of the next generation, I'm genuinely intrigued: which is the most iconic image of Thatcher? And which of these images resonates with you the most?

Exhibition: George Bellows: Modern American Life

"He's not very good at faces, is he?". Yes, fellow visitor to the RA George Bellows exhibition, that's what I thought. They're creepy as hell. Exhibit A:

His body is a mismatch of youth and old age. The Organ Boy, as he is called, has the hands of an old man and the face of a (scary) child. His shoulders and legs seem small, his torso large. He may be in an exhibition of 'modern American life', but this boy is Dickensian in the darkness. Weird. Unsettling. But Bellows (who I'll admit I'd never heard of before) apparently revelled in the ugly. His paintings weren't of flowers, or haystacks; he showed muscle fighting muscle:

To me, it looks a bit like someone has slapped two raw steaks together. But that's what these illegal sportsmen were: meat for the spectator. If you can get close enough at the RA, look at the mania in the audience. This 'Stag at Sharkey's' was painted in 1909, when boxing was illegal in America.

When boxing was legalised, his style changed completely:

The smooth application of paint and the harsh lighting shows a new culture round the sport. It's brilliant - but I definitely prefer the grittiness of the previous painting. What do you think?
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