The Art Institute of Chicago has combined two of my favorite things in Art & Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine. Food and art!
There were paintings, dishes and eating utensils, sculptures, cookbooks, posters, menus and more. Most from the 18th through the 20th century.
Elizabeth Paxton’s The Breakfast Tray was my favorite. Unfortunately, the museum did not allow photos to be taken inside the exhibition, so…I’ll try my best to paint the picture.
It’s a painting of a messy bedroom scene, lit by morning light. The bed is empty except for lush, crumpled, cream-colored linens and pillows, and what looks to be a silk robe half draped over the side bed, the other half on the floor. A newspaper and black, dressy heels are strewn about on the floor. Breakfast, including a half-eaten grapefruit is situated in the seat of a chair, on top of an unfolded, crisply creased napkin. It’s very intimate, and sensual, and feminine, yet mysterious. There’s no woman in sight but, she feels close by. Like maybe in the next room, taking a shower? The Breakfast Tray leaves lots to the imagination about the woman. Who she is, and what she’s done. Love it!
I also liked the gallery where they had printed images of food and recipes on the walls to illustrate what trade cards looked like. Trade cards were like these little advertisements for food products way back before magazines were printed. I forget what year/time period ( I want to say late 1800’s?) but, a lot of trade cards featured recipes on them so people would know how to prepare the specific foods they bought.
If you’re in the Chicagoland area, The Art Institute museum has free admission (weekdays only) through February 12th but, you must be an Illinois resident! Bring your I.D. for free admission.
If you’re interested in trying some vintage American recipes from the exhibit, the museum even has an online cookbook. There are some new recipes from Chicago’s top chefs in there as well.
The Art & Appetite exhibit will be closing soon on January 27th. I’d recommend checking it out!