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Art and Food

'Summer' by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, circa 1580.

Still life: It has no sell-by date

Food has been a subject of art as long as art has existed. From hunter-gather cave paintings to Greco-Roman murals and twenty-first century culinary photography, the culture of consumption – both what we eat and why we eat it – has fascinated artists, aesthetically and philosophically. Still life, the practice of depicting commonplace objects, often features foodstuffs as emblems of status, wealth, class, and mortality. Fruits rot but those immortalised on canvas will outlast the artist. Like the myth of Zeuxis and Parrhasius, in the tradition of still life, there’s usually more than meets the eye. Read more here.

'Harvest at La Crau with Montmajour in the Background, 1880' by Vincent Van Gogh.

Landscape and food: Back to our roots

Tending allotments, home-grown veg, and farming local produce recalls more similarities perhaps with Neolithic agriculture from around 12,000 years ago than you might think. Close proximity between settlements and food production was maintained until the agricultural Green Revolution in the mid-twentieth century. Today modern ideas of landscape architecture raise vital questions of resource management and legislative mechanisms, from policies to planning, security, sovereignty, integrity, locality as well as the design of food systems and urban agriculture. Read the chapter here for more on plant legacy and agrobiodiversity.

A spectator walks past 'Campbells Soup Cans' created in 1962 by artist Andy Warhol.

Product design: Looks good enough to eat

Supermarket aisles stock thousands of perishable goods. Competing brands jostle for attention and real estate on shelves across territories worldwide. Savvy concept designs for artwork, branding, and packaging can provide innovative solutions to more competitive, sustainable, and economical ways to make sure a product is snapped up by customers. Spanning concept generation, market research, and a case study of Longview Vineyard, click the link to read more about food and packaging and take a deep dive into successful product design and how consumables end up in our cupboards.

High angle view of many red milk or juice boxes on green background

Design management: The importance of taste

What makes Innocent, the ‘little tasty drinks’ company, such a hugely popular brand? Already a hit with adults with its eye-catching, naughty-but-nice branding, the company launched a new product for kids. Read this chapter to find out how design management helped make the product launch a success.

'Downfall of Monopoly in 1800', a hand-colored etching by Thomas Rowlandson.

Etching: Biting copper plates

From dinner plates to copper plates, etching – the practice of producing an image with a needle on a metal sheet, coated with an acid-resisting ground, for printmaking – comes from the Dutch word etzen meaning ‘to eat’. In aquatint, a medium often paired with engraving practices like etching, acid is said ‘to bite’ away at the metal plates used to create the image in the printing process. For more on etching and other experimental and printmaking techniques, following the link to the relevant chapter.

Images above and on the homepage are courtesy of Getty Images.

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