Sunday, July 19, 2009

Donuts, Doughnuts, Crullers and Fine Art

Jeff Koons (born 1955, York, PA), Cutout, 1999

Query from a fan: "Are they donuts or Cheerios?" Mia culpa!

According to this week's New York Times (July 19, 2009), the donut wars have come to Manhattan.

Below: Wang Liang Yin Chocolate Crumb Donut, 2009. Wang creates images of scrumptious foods in acrylic on canvas and in wax sculpture.

Really? I thought we were pretty well tied up in the Senate, Wall Street, K Street in Washington, and Afghanistan.

Personally, I always preferred crullers, the round, Dutch-derived twisted doughy pastry, sometimes iced with sugar but far better plain. But that item has never been selected by artists to tempt us and one never sees them anymore.

Photo below (courtesy of photographer Byron Baldwin) of an early Krispy Kreme doughnut shop in Charlotte, NC, circa 1950, before the company's expansion. Note the quaint but correct spelling of doughnut. Baldwin has put together an online pictorial history (restaurants, poster ads, menus, customers) of eating in Charlotte, NC, from which this image was borrowed.

Now it's a turf thing between Dunkin Donuts and the Canadian intruder, Tim Horton, or "Timmys" as they are called at home. Post-war America, especially in Pop Art and its derivatives, latched onto the doughnut (the correct and original spelling), and here is a sampling. Probably not comprehensive but a good byte:
oil painting, lithographs, and sculpture.

Jason Rhoades (born Occidental, CA 1965-2006) with Paul McCarthy, Chocolate Donut, 1999

Jason Rhoades was fascinated , if not consumed, by doughnuts. They constantly appear in his exhibitions and in his career he is associated with donut constructions, a donut factory and donut shops. Rhoades was widely admired in Europe (more than in the US) as a sculptor and gifted installation artist, creating pieces put together from ready-mades and neon, cloth and whatever was at hand. Chocolate Donut (approximately 17 x 62 inches) is constructed from a large inner tube covered with felt and other fabric.

Below: Jason Rhoades, Donut Installation, ca 2001

Emily Eveleth (born 1960) Holding
, 2008. Below: Rift, 2005
Eveleth, like Kleinline (below), is virtually photorealistic but she specializes in jelly donuts and names her pieces to connote human positions or emotional states.
Ray Kleinlein, Maple Donut, 2005.
Kleinlein, residing in Virginia, had his first big exhibit while still in graduate school, 1997, and a few years ago was invited to Davidson College, North Carolina, as artist-in-residence. His work has won numerous prizes and has been purchased for corporate and private collections. He skillfully combines photo realism with many of the subjects grasped by the earlier Pop artists -simple domestic items, but also glitzy shopping bags, and of course, food.

Mel Ramos (born Sacramento, California, 1935) Dunkin Donuts, 2006. Ramos is best known for his pin-up girls juxtaposed with candy bars and other sweet things. Here is Cindy Crawford as a Dunkin Donuts poster girl.

Jim Dine (born Cincinnati, 1935), Two Hearts (The Donut), 1970 (lithograph). The donut, if there is one, is more imagined than real, but there are sketches here of what Dine later called "winter tools" - brushes, an oil can, and pliers.

Fletcher Benton (born Jackson, OH 1931), Tilted Donut and Two Squares #5, 2006.
Benton is a distinguished American sculptor with two doctorates in fine arts. His steel construction is displayed in the city of Palo Alto,California.

Claes Oldenberg (born Stockholm,Sweden, 1929) Donut and Coffee Mug (litho) Of all the artists who have taken food as a subject, Oldenberg is one of the most prolific and imaginative. This simple drawing could be the basic sketch for one of his famous "soft sculptures"

Robert Gober (Wallingford, CONN, 1954) , Bag of Donuts, 1989.

Gober is famous for his sculptures of kitchen implements, especially sinks. This is a
sculpture in which "greasy" donuts are in fact covered with a shiny resin, whose toxicity reflects the underlying effect of this tempting feast.

Doughnuts are, of course, historical associated with pre-World War II diners, the kind I remember from the late 1940s: no booths, the cook-as-server, heavy, chipped white coffee mugs, and stew on the back of the stove. Doughnuts: five cents apiece.

Here is a recent photograph of the Lunch Box Diner, dating from the pre-war period, in Malden, Massachusetts.

Finally, even the doughnut take-home carton has entered the field of aesthetic contemplation This from Diedrich's
"World's Finest" Donuts.


monaluna said...

great post! but i shouldn't have read it before breakfast...

Mojo said...

I'm feeling hungry, too. Dad, I love the Koontz, but I believe those may be Cherrios. The milk splashing is what makes me think so. Very excellent curation of different takes on the doughy blissfulness!