Art Institute of Chicago Hosts Major Exhibition on Eating in America

The Art Institute of Chicago is hosting a major exhibition exploring eating in America. The exhibit, Art
 and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine, opens November 12 and runs through January 27, 2014 in the museum's Regenstein Hall.

Art and Appetite will showcase the many meanings and interpretations of food through over 100 paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from the 18th through the 20th century.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the delicious and fun exhibition is perfectly timed for Chicago's calorie fueled season. Thematically and chronologically organized, Art and Appetite takes a break from the traditional histories of the genre to explore how food illuminates American attitudes. The paintings below are intended as an appetizer, not a spoiler for this exhibition.

It's eatin' season so what's for dinner?

William Michael Harnett. For Sunday's Dinner, 1888. Art Institute of Chicago. Wilson L. Mead Fund

William Michael Harnett. For Sunday's Dinner, 1888. Art Institute of Chicago. Wilson L. Mead Fund

Orange you glad I didn't say banana

William J. McCloskey. Wrapped Oranges, 1889. Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Acquisition in memory of Katrine Deakins, Trustee, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, 1961–1985

William J. McCloskey. Wrapped Oranges, 1889. Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Acquisition in memory of Katrine Deakins, Trustee, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, 1961–1985

What's for lunch? Copyright and credit.

Wayne Thiebaud. Salad, Sandwiches and Dessert, 1960. Lent by the Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, NAA–Thomas C. Woods Memorial. Art © Wayne Thiebaud/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

Wayne Thiebaud. Salad, Sandwiches and Dessert, 1960. Lent by the Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, NAA–Thomas C. Woods Memorial. Art © Wayne Thiebaud/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

Hopefully, this small sampling of paintings whets your appetite for more because there is a lot more.  In addition to the art, a wealth of fascinating materials are showcased in the exhibition, including menus, cookbooks, advertisements, and decorative arts.

The scope of exhibition is all-encompassing. Not only does it explore American attitudes about patriotism and politics, identity and gender, progress and history, and production and consumption it also examines the agricultural bounty of the “new world,” Victorian-era excess, debates over temperance, the rise of restaurants and café culture, the changes wrought by 20th-century mass production, and more—all represented in American art spanning 250 years.

Related events

William Grimes: The Fruited Plain—Food and the American Imagination
November 15, 2013, 6:00–7:00 p.m.
Fullerton Hall; free

New York Times food critic William Grimes discusses the importance of food to the American psyche. This lecture occurs after the museum has closed for the evening; doors will be open at 5:45 p.m. Enter at the Michigan Avenue entrance only.

Ingredients of the American Appetite
December 19, 2013, 6:00–7:00 p.m.
January 10, 2014, 12:00 p.m.
Fullerton Hall; free with museum admission

Culinary historian Andrew Smith discusses gustatory explorers with connections to Art and Appetite.

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