A Feast for the Eye: Food in Art

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A lively and engaging exhibition of art in all media, A Feast for the Eye celebrates and explores the vast subject of food. Still lifes, genre scenes, cartoons, photographs, and decorative arts illustrate both the serious and the humorous sides of food as a symbol of wealth, power, and status, as well as the powerlessness engendered by the lack of food.

This spirited exhibition, based primarily on the permanent collections at the Fine Arts Museums, showcases spendid European and American paintings — including a choice selection of still lifes from the Rockefeller Collection — along with diverse and sometimes provocative historic and contemporary works on paper from the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts. An eclectic selection of objects ranging from a glorious Faberge tea service to an elegantly functional Pit River Indian acorn mush bowl will also be on view. The three-dimensional objects are drawn from the museums’ extensive holdings of European and American decorative art, and the art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Included from the museums’ textiles department will be a whimsical paper mini-dress printed in a pattern of Campbell soup labels after the well-known work by Andy Warhol.

Areas of investigation include ambivalence about self-indulgence, nostalgia for a romanticized past, expressions of national, regional, and cultural identities, and longing for comfort, warmth, and love. A separate section of the exhibition will examine decorative aspects of food.

The some 150 works on display will be augmented with a number of loans from private and public collections. In addition, selected short films on the subject of food will be screened in the exhibition galleries.


This exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Currently on view