Friday, October 16, 2015

Tuna Fish Disaster & Artist's Shit: Food Packaging as Art

artfoodlit                                        www.foodinthe



 Once we sat at the breakfast table and "read" our cereal boxes.  Sports figures
(Babe Ruth) or adventure heroes (aviatrix Elinor Smith), antique toys and collectibles, and pictures that we would cut out for baseball cards.  WE often purchased a cereal brand because of our interest in the box's illustration. This were our text - advertising at its most powerful, always enhanced by a visual and highly symbolic image.

But here is a different image with a different message:

Artist's Shit (Italian: Merda d'artista) is a 1961 artwork by the Italian artist Piero Manzoni. The work consists of 90 tin cans, each filled with 30 grams (1.1 oz) of feces, and measuring 4.8 by 6.5 centimetres (1.9 in × 2.6 in), with a label in Italian, English, French, and German.  The artist is telling us that the object is his own and it is made from his own body. It  is unlikely that it can become a dollar-valued "commodity."

Artist's Shit
Contents 30 gr net5

Andy Warhol, Tunafish Disaster, 1963

   As a response to America's bland, entertaining pictorial art, but continuing realism, Warhol chooses the popular media, a newspaper, for his message. And 
Marshall McLuan would not be surprised.

The idea of an internal deterioration is expressed even more overtly in works such as Tunafish Disaster. Here, Warhol lifts the story of two housewives directly from newspapers: Mrs. Brown and Mrs. McCarthy shared a sandwich made from tainted store-bought tuna and died of food poisoning. Their death made headlines across the country. The A&P tin of tuna that, along with countless other industrially manufactured foods, was to liberate homemakers had suddenly turned into its opposite, linked to fear of destruction”.”

Some Questions:

1. Why might an artist choose commercial packaging as art?

2 How big is a food container? A cup? A bottle? A package? A ship?

3. Is the artist entering the discussion on the ownership of art, its provenance or lack thereof?

4. Is the artist challenging the unimaginable breadth of choice in materials?

5. Are we studying (or just amused at) food packaging as art or do other disciplines apply? What of the pervasive power of images in our civilization? Can true art stand up to commercialism and the profit motive? What is the effect of unsavory contents?

     First, one might consider the processes of food containers in undeveloped societies, wherein banana leaves, bark or animal skin or entrails containers come under the gaze of the ethnologist, who calls it ethnographic art or folk art.

    The creative movement toward incorporating a wider and wider range of art materials has been in full view since Dada, propelled,in part, by the democratic challenge to academic authority or, further, as a rejection of figurative or established traditional art forms.

     The food container as art presents an unexpected phenomenon that calls for reviewing and reconsideration. In our world, art is basically the enemy of practical business, where a commodity is valued on a dollar amount. Essentially, art in containers asks: who owns these materials and, therefore the finished piece? Does its price make it rare or a “collectible”? Who wants to own such a creation? Will it fit in the living room? Does it match the sofa?

    Can the container be very, very large? Yes! Above, Marshall Sokoloff's dramatic photo, Sugar depicting an ocean-going freighter carrying various cargoes of food. Sokoloff presents his photographs of the weathered and discolored hulls of ships that are carrying raw materials – hemp, fruit, and sugar from the tropics, north through the Atlantic to the Jarvis Quay in Toronto, Canada.

Robert C. Jackson (b. Kinston, NC, 1964) He paints and creates artistic assemblages of containers, often called "painted stories" or "installations." 

Jordan, Chris (b. 1963, Seattle)  Appropriation from Georges Seurat, Sunday on le Grande Jetee. Re-cycled metal can construction, 2007


In his alluring photographs, Chris Jordan coaxes us into confronting our implication in “the collective trance of our consumerism and runaway industrial growth,” as he has said, and the way in which it wreaks havoc on our environment and every living being dependent upon it. Through both documentary and digitally manipulated photographs, he shows us the results of unchecked mass consumption. He has photographed mountains of cell phones, cars, and other consumer waste products, as well as the autopsied bodies of albatrosses on Midway Island, overflowing with scraps of plastic they pick up from the Pacific Ocean. In his ongoing “Running the Numbers” series (begun 2006), he makes staggering social and environmental statistics visible by transforming problems into pictures, including the head of a whale composed entirely of plastic bags. “My hope is that these photographs can serve as portals to a kind of cultural self-inquiry,” Jordan says.

Outerbridge, Paul    Saltine Box, 1923
Outerbridge shows early use of negative space and a style of cubism

Warmouth, Jeffu Schewitz, Egg-Matzo Balls 
 Matzo is part of the traditional Jewish meal and Jews do not celebrate the Christian Easter. A humorous juxtaposition.

Fleury, Sylvia (b. Geneva, Switzerland, 1961) Slim Fast Milk shake Powder Can from

installation, 1993

W. B. Moore (b. Poughkeepsie, NY, 1931) Pepsi Wonder [Collage], 2010
 Ritzy Oreo [collage], 2009 NO IMAGE

Kippenberger,Martin (b. Dortmund, GDR, 1953-1997) The Artist’s Angst

Baldacinnni,Cesar (b. Marseilles, 1921-1998) Compression Coca
  The artist did a series of "compressed sculptures" using containers of various commercial brands. 1992

Ceilo Meireles (b. Rio de Janeire). Partially filled Coke bottles is a strong political statement about the Coca Cola Company which drains energy from South American (and other) countries

Rahman, Jessy installation n.d.

Daft Punk Designs, Coca Cola Limited, limited

Wong, Martin Résume Consumé

Zandfliet, Robert


Fish, Janet   [plastgic] Bag of Bananas, 1976

Ray Kleinleine, (b.Columbus, Ohio, 1969) Pink Boxes

Kleinlein teaches at Lynchburg College and Longwood University, Virginia
His sensuous realism has been recognized by various publications.

 In 1999, he was awarded the Mary Lou Chess Award by the Ohio Art League and placed 2nd in Miami University's National Young Painters competition in 2001. 

Dahn Trung Vō Pronounced Yan vo (b.1975, Bà Rịa., Vietnam, lived in Denmark,Berlin) Fiat Veritas” (“let there be truth”)
Guilded Budweiser Box, 2013

Leibowitz, Cary (aka "Candyass", b. 1963, NYC)

No More Disappointing Offspring, 2000

“Don't Steal My Car Stereo, I'm Queer” reads a car windshield screen by New York artist Candyass, also known by his birth name Cary Leibowitz. A self-loathing, self-deprecating, incessant whiner, Candy Ass employs humor, media satire, self-doubt, homosexual innuendo and Jewish cultural references to make his not-so-subtle critique of the pretentious commercial art world.

His work is represented in the collections of the Chase Manhattan Bank, the Hirschhorn Museum, The Jewish Museum, New York; the Peter and Eileen Norton Collection and the Robert J Shiffler Foundation. 

 Ramos, Mel (b. Sacramento, CA, 1935) And that's a wrap!

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