Food is big business right now, from esoteric street food diners to upscale Michelin restaurants, backed up by a wealth of imagery online, in magazines, in cook books and even in galleries. A recurring theme in art history, it’s also a favourite with advertisers, and a key insight into cultural mores. Food, like photography, can be high art and pop culture, aesthetically driven and plainly utilitarian. This issue, we showcase an extended collection of Martin Parr’s famed food photography. Described as “a chronicler of our age”, and known for his character-filled, satirical approach to documenting modern society, Parr believes food has a great social history: “When I started, it wasn’t really being explored. Now we all photograph what we eat, all the time.” Parr’s inimitable relationship with food is the subject of his recently published book Real Food, a compendium of his greatest nosh shots taken everywhere from Britain to Sri Lanka, including everything from buttered bread to rotting fruit. We also feature Per-Anders Jörgensen’s project with Michelin-star chef Konstantin Filippou, which captures the chef ’s sensitivity to …
When William Henry Fox Talbot pioneered the salted paper and calotype processes in 1841, he soon turned his new inventions to food, capturing two baskets overflowing with fruit. Creating an image designed to mimic the paintings of the time, and to contrast the colours and textures of the pineapple and peaches, he also made an image rife with welcoming symbolism – the pineapple a sign of hospitality, the peach a sign of fecundity.
“Fox Talbot’s photograph was copying the traditions of painting and its attendant symbolism,” says photography curator and writer Susan Bright. “But it was also concerned with the role of photography, and elevating its status to that of art. In this respect it resonates nicely with artists such as Daniel Gordon, whose work also deals with the medium of photography. But his constructed pineapple has nothing to do with symbolism, or striving to be understood as art. It is art. He is questioning the role of visual perception, what is real and what is not.
“The way food is photographed says a tremendous amount about significant aspects of our culture,” Bright continues. “It is often about fantasy, be that national, sexual or historical. Photographs of food are the carrier for so many things – desire, consumption, taste, immigration and feminism, for example. It has been a major part of the development of fine art, editorial, fashion, marketing and product photography throughout the 20th and 21st century.”
“What I experienced and witnessed in most families was a really strong sense of well-being and love towards each other, because it’s tough out there,” says Sian Davey, whose latest photoseries, Together, is about to go on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London ahead of an international tour. The photographer, who is already known for photographing her own family, was compelled to start a project that celebrated modern, diverse families after separating from her partner and seeing first hand how it affected her own family.
When chef and Momofuku restaurants founder David Chang set up Lucky Peach in 2011, The New York Times called it “a glorious, improbable artifact”. It also predicted the venture would herald a new era of unconventional niche magazines featuring skinless chickens on their covers, eye-popping graphics and visuals, and a single theme per issue. Five years on, it seems The New York Times was right. “It definitely was meant to push the boundaries of what, up until that point, defined food magazines, which tended to be very safe editorially and visually,” says Devin Washburn, the quarterly’s art director since September 2015. A self-described non-foodie, Washburn was surprised by the sheer pace of food photography when he joined. “Ideas are very spur-of-the-moment, since you have to make the food on site and photograph it before it cools down, settles or loses its shape,” he says, adding that he also had to get an understanding of the cooking process, as everything that goes into making a dish has an effect on how it looks. “I learned that …
On this day ten years ago, the UN recognised clean water and sanitation as a human right, but one in ten people still lack access. Wateraid commissioned 10 visual artists from the global south to respond to this issue
Our Creative Brief this month is Lucy Conticello, the director of photography at M, the magazine arm of French newspaper, Le Monde
“We look at the statistics and the hospitals, focusing on the people who have contracted the illness, and we forget about how the situation impacts the community”
George Floyd’s murder has sparked global protests against racism, inequality, and police brutality. Here, we compile a growing list of books, articles, and initiatives to learn from and support
Growing up in the febrile atmosphere of manliness following Six-Day War, the Israeli photographer never felt he quite fitted in. Until he joined the IDF, embraced his sexuality and went to art college
Justine Kurland, Alfredo Jaar, Rhiannon Adam, Cao Fei and others, reflect on the idea of Utopia amid the current crisis — the first in a series of articles inviting artists to respond to a theme with image and text