Matisse, Picasso, Hockney—they may not have been from the same period, but they all painted still lifes of food. And they are not alone. Andy Warhol painted soup cans, Claes Oldenburg sculpted an ice cream cone on the top of a building in Cologne, Jack Kerouac’s Sal ate apple pie across the country, and Truman Capote served chicken hash at the Black and White Ball. Food has always played a role in art, but how well and what did the artists themselves eat? Exploring a panoply of artworks of food, cooking, and eating from Europe and the Americas, The Modern Art Cookbook opens a window into the lives of artists, writers, and poets in the kitchen and the studio throughout the twentieth century and beyond.
From the early moderns to the impressionists; from symbolists to cubists and surrealists; from the Beats to the abstractionists of the New York School, Mary Ann Caws surveys how artists and writers have eaten, cooked, and depicted food. She examines the parallels between the art of cuisine and the visual arts and literature, using artworks, diaries, novels, letters, and poems to illuminate the significance of particular ingredients and dishes in the lives of the world’s greatest artists. In between, she supplies numerous recipes from these artists—including Ezra Pound’s poetic eggs, Cézanne’s baked tomatoes, and Monet’s madeleines—alongside one hundred color illustrations and thought-provoking selections from both poetry and prose. A joyous and illuminating guide to the art of food, The Modern Art Cookbook is a feast for the mind as well as the palate.
About the Author
Mary Ann Caws is distinguished professor emerita of English, French, and comparative literature and resident professor in the Graduate School at the City University of New York. She is the author of many books on art and literature, including Robert Motherwell with Pen and Brush, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dalí, all published by Reaktion Books.
“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
“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 Café”
“Mouthwatering. . . . Captivating images of works by Mary Cassat and Gustav Klimt are partnered with recipes used by Salvador Dali 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 penchant 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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“[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.”
“Not a cookbook for those who like precise measurements and step-by-step guides, this book provides instead 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 (UK)
“A veritable smorgasbord of strange and often charming details.”