Food has always been a favourite subject of the world’s artists, from still-lifes by Matisse and Picasso to the works of Claes Oldenberg and Andy Warhol. But how do artists eat? The Modern Art Cookbook provides a window into how both great and lesser-known modern artists, writers and poets ate, cooked, depicted and wrote about food. A cornucopia of life in the kitchen and in the studio throughout the twentieth century and beyond, the book explores a wide-ranging panoply of artworks of food, cooking and eating from Europe and the Americas – from the early moderns through the Impressionists, Symbolists, Cubists, Futurists and Surrealists up to today’s art – as well as writing about food from contemporary novelists, writers and poets.
Mary Ann Caws supplies numerous delicious modern art recipes, from Frida Kahlo’s Veracruz-style red snapper to David Hockney’s strawberry cake and Claude Monet’s madeleines, exploring the parallels between the art of cuisine and the visual and verbal arts. The Modern Art Cookbook illuminates the significance of particular ingredients and dishes in the lives of some of the world’s greatest artists, providing a feast for the eyes and the mind as well as the palate. Beautifully illustrated and often surprising, this compilation is a joyous guide to the art of food.
Mary Ann Caws talks with Michael Harlan Turkell about The Modern Art Cookbook on ‘The Food Seen’, January 6, 2015.
In the podcast below author and food historian Andrew F. Smith and poet and cultural critic Wayne Koestenbaum join author Mary Ann Caws for a conversation about the newly published The Modern Art Cookbook, which has been nominated for a 2013 André Simon Food and Drink Award.
Mary Ann Caws has recently spoken about The Modern Art Cookbook with Margaret Ramirez of CUNY Radio’s Bookbeat. To listen to the podcast please click here.
‘Connecting the senses is what The Modern Art Cookbook is all about . . . the larger purpose of this delectable anthology is the association of reading, looking and cooking . . . Mary Ann Caws has a discriminating eye, a catholic taste, a fine feeling for feeding, as A. J. Liebling called it, and a wonderfully well-stocked larder of culture. As a trans-historical truffle-hound she is hard to beat . . . Mary Ann Caws’s purpose is triumphantly achieved. The marriage of lookery and cookery is beguiling: the total effect is mouth-watering.’ – Alex Danchev, TLS
‘The best thing about this beautifully packaged book is the lavish quantity of coloured plates: still lives and drawings, the odd photograph, some familiar, others not, all of them of food . . . [Caws] has paired pictures and recipes in the most imaginative way . . . A visual feast to salivate over.’ – Evening Standard
‘Try Cézanne’s pears and quinces with honey or Roy Lichtenstein’s roast fillet of beef. Less a kitchen book than a feast for the eyes.’ – Country Life
‘this book provides a rich fund of anecdotes and recipes, mined from the notebooks and journals of writers and artists who also liked to cook. Picasso’s charlotte au chocolat, Cézanne’s knockout bitter orange wine, David Hockney’s strawberry cake and Roy Lichtenstein’s grilled bass all figure here, illustrated by their own or other artists’ pictures’ – Telegraph Magazine
‘a magnificent mélange of art, literature, food and history, offering the exciting prospect of being able to enjoy dishes by the world's greatest painters, novelists and poets. Pablo Picasso’s Spanish omelette, David Hockney’s strawberry cake and Ezra Pound’s “Poetic Eggs” are top of our list to try.’ – Elle Decoration
‘It’s the rare artist who doesn’t occasionally make the antics of the kitchen the subject of a work or two. But far from offering a dry review of that phenomenon or a delicious-looking but unfulfilling cocktail book of plates, Surrealism scholar Mary Ann Caws has assembled a collection of artists’ personal writings, from diary entries to poetry, to examine the connection between art and paintings in The Modern Art Cookbook.’ – Art and Auction
‘Beautiful food art, quirky artist recipes, and dinner table gossip make this book an epicurean treat.’
‘a gathering of freely associated artworks, poems, anecdotes, and recipes – all related, if loosely, through comestible delights . . . the book is a veritable smorgasbord of strange and often charming details’
‘Mouthwatering . . . Captivating images of works by Mary Cassat and Gustav Klimt are partnered with recipes used by Salvador Dalí and Frida Kahlo, amounting to the perfect gourmet tour through art history. Beyond artworks and recipes, the work also includes diary entries, poems, and bits of correspondence that illuminate art’s long love affair with food. You’ll not only learn to cook Monet’s madeleines but you’ll understand why Cezanne had a penchat for drawing potatoes. If visions of abstract paintings and juicy roasted vegetables are dancing in your head already, we don’t blame you.’
– Huffington Post
‘[Caws] cookbook is a compilation of recipes culled from various artists’ repertoires or inspired by their preferences, interspersed with paintings, photographs, snippets of poems, fiction, and essays about food or cooking. For instance, there’s a recipe called “Cezanne’s Anchoiade” in homage to the daily anchovies he ate rolled between sautéed eggplant slices on the way to his studio. Instead of pictures of the finished product, a painting by Julian Merrow Smith of two silvery anchovies accompanies the recipe . . . What Caws is doing is highlighting the intersection between the act of creating art and cooking.’
‘Ever wanted to make Monet's madeleines or Cezanne's baked tomatoes? 2013’s The Modern Art Cookbook offers these recipes and more, with each recipe either written or inspired by a modernist artist, writer or poet. In between are art works, letters and excerpts from novels, giving a fascinating historical account of the intersection of food and art.’ – Viva, New Zealand
‘a witty and thought-provoking journey through modern art, sprinkled in between are numerous recipes from these artists—including Ezra Pound’s poetic eggs and Monet’s madeleines.’ – Irma’s World
‘A masterful blend of scholarship,detective work and recipes by modern masters.This is a gem: wonderful to read and exciting in its prospect of cooking delicious meals created and eaten by great artists.’
– Frederic Tuten, author of Tintin in the New World and Van Gogh’s Bad Cafe
‘Who wouldn’t want to taste Allen Ginsberg’s borscht, Frida Kahlo’s red snapper, or Cézanne’s baked tomatoes? Mary Ann Caws – a phenomenal writer, critic, translator, and curator of cultivated pleasures – has assembled an intoxicating mélange of reminiscences, art works, poems, and recipes. This savory compendium offers imaginative satisfactions of the highest order. I can’t wait to bake David Hockney’s strawberry cake!’ – Wayne Koestenbaum
‘One of our leading connoisseurs of Modernist art and literature in all their manifestations, Mary Ann Caws has here assembled the most delicious set of anecdotes, paintings, photographs, poems, and, of course, recipes that present us with the joys of Modernist cuisine. From Neruda’s “Ode to an Artichoke” to Helen Frankenthaler’s recipe for “Quick, Heavenly Hors D'oeuvres,” to Mallarmé’s tip to remove the sand from chanterelle mushrooms but not to wash them before cooking, you will find your mouth watering! Tomorrow, I plan to try Picasso’s recipe for Spanish omelette – so simple and practical that it must be the creation of an artist!’ – Marjorie Perloff
Mary Ann Caws is Distinguished Professor of English, French, and Comparative literature, Graduate Center, City University of New York, and the author of many books on art and literature, including Robert Motherwell with Pen and Brush (Reaktion, 2003), Pablo Picasso (Reaktion, 2005) and Salvador Dalí (Reaktion, 2008).
Introduction: Reading in the Kitchen
Bread and Cheese