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I paint, make collages and mixed media work. I write poetry. I reflect on the Tao.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cooking with M.O.M. (Monet, Olsen and Me)

The recent exhibition by John Olsen of paintings of meals captures the sensual pleasure and passion of food.

I particularly liked The Bouillabaisse

It got me musing on the relationship between making art and the preparation and consumption of food. There are artists, like John Olsen, for whom the enjoyment of food is an integral part of the sensuous enjoyment of life. His diary excerpts in “Drawn from Life” are peppered (pun intended) with notes of meals enjoyed and recipes.

You can find his recipe for Poulet Picasso at the Artist’s Lunch website

Photographer Sarah Rhodes and writer Alice McCormick visited the homes and private studios of Australia's pre-eminent artists, including John Olsen. As they say,

The culinary arts and visual arts are linked by colour, texture, form and taste, and to see the process by which each artist combined these elements was captivating and revelatory.
What follows in these pages are eighteen invitations to dine with the most surprising and engaging selection of bon viveurs. Like that game about who you'd like to invite to your ideal dinner party; forget the high-minded nonsense about wanting your companions to be Aristotle, Voltaire, Jefferson, let me assure you that you want to dine with artists. Artists do it better.

Monet is another artist for whom the enjoyment of food was an essential part of his lifestyle. There is even a cookbook of the master’s recipes.
Monet's Table: The Cooking Journals of Claude Monet by Claire Joyes, Jean-Bernard Naudin, and Joel Robuchon.

I wasn’t going to give a recipe, but having cooked chicken this way myself, I couldn’t resist this one from the Claude Monet Foundation

Chicken with onions
Choose a good big chicken, 16 to 20 onions according to their size.A half pound of butter, some flour, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper. Brown the chicken in warm butter. Cut the onions in four, and put them around. When the chicken is well browned on all faces, sprinkle it with a very little bit of flour. Salt, pepper and add 2 sticks of parsley. Cover and let it cook. From time to time, lift the lid up to drop the mist. Take care so that onions do not stick to the saucepan. At mid cooking, add a half glass of bouillon or, if not available, hot water. In a saucepan, brown one dozen small onions in butter, a little bit of sugar, salt and pepper. Serve the chicken surrounded with onions.
Two things I would add. Cook the chicken in a covered casserole dish (preferably a creuset). Cook the chicken in a SLOW oven (about 150 degrees Celsius).

You could deduce from these examples that there is some connection between the enjoyment of food and the sensuousity of the art.
Alas, van Gogh destroys that argument. While he produced some of the most sensuous art of all time, his diet mostly consisted of bread and coffee, supplemented occasionally by onions, chestnuts, olives and fish. Indeed one writer suggests that much of Vincent’s erratic behaviour and mental condition may be attributed to chronic hunger and near starvation:

To conclude, there would seem to be no necessary connection between the arts of painting and cooking. It really depends on the personality of the artist.

For me, cooking and art have this is common. When I am cooking, I go into the same calm, focused and egoless state from which I make art. The difference is when I make a meal, the reward is fairly immediate. With art, as Fats Waller put it, “One never knows. Do one?

1 comment:

  1. this is so fascinating! thanks for sharing this perspective and also for the mention of van gogh. i am a little van gogh obsessed. : )

    on another note i am a bit torn tonight: although i too relate to this 100%: "When I am cooking, I go into the same calm, focused and egoless state from which I make art" I am also exploring a comment left by Shell on Walt Pascoe's posterous that we do we creatives doubt ourselves.

    the constant back and forth.

    when i cook, i am almost doing it for myself and i am like a little kid. when i write, it is coming from feeding something that is hungry that is not just "me." sigh.

    anyway, lovely to stop here.

    cheers and good rest of the week to you.