Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture and Cuisine

An oil painting of a corner bar at night, showing through the windows three patrons at the bar and a bartender at work.
February 22–May 18, 2014
Second floor

This mouthwatering exhibition of 60 paintings explores the art and culture of food, investigating the many meanings and interpretations of dining in America. Depictions of food in art frequently celebrate the pleasures of eating: elegant and orderly arrangements of cookies or cakes, lavish and overflowing arrays of fruit, or the remnants of a gluttonous feast all convey the passion for consumption.

Yet paintings of edibles also speak volumes about their cultural context. From this country’s earliest years, American artists have used still life painting to express cultural, political, and social values, elevating the subject to a significant artistic language. The topic of food allowed them both to celebrate and critique their society, expressing ideas relating to politics, race, class, gender, commerce, and how these categories define American identity. Art and Appetite includes many iconic works such as Nighthawks (1942) by Edward Hopper, Freedom from Want (1942) by Norman Rockwell, and Campbell’s Soup (1965) by Andy Warhol.

Installation Photos

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Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine was organized by the Art Institute of Chicago. It is supported in part by generous contributions from Central Market, the Fort Worth Promotion and Development Fund, the Ben E. Keith Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Ronnie Goldman, the James and Dorothy Doss Foundation, Luther King Capital Management and the Nicholas and Louella Martin Charitable Fund of the Community Foundation of North Texas. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities.