Looking back at FOOD: a pioneer of both food and art

In researching Food + Art as a topic for our next DELVE event, we're struck by what a rich role food plays throughout art history, and something that's especially fascinating for us is its use in the more performative, conceptual and relational work of the latter half of the 20th century.

FOOD, on the corner of Prince and Wooster Streets in SoHo. via Frieze

FOOD, on the corner of Prince and Wooster Streets in SoHo. via Frieze

FOOD was a restaurant founded in SoHo in 1971 by Caroline Goodden, Gordon Matta-Clark, and Tina Girouard, and functioned as everything from restaurant to performance space to forum for culinary experimentation. Artists like Robert Rauschenburg and John Cage were commissioned to serve meals, and many of the odd culinary juxtapositions artists came up with proved to be inedible. From a 2007 NY Times article:

From the beginning, the idea was to establish not only a kind of perpetual dinner party but also a food-based philanthropy that would employ and support struggling artists, the whole endeavor conceived by Matta-Clark as a living, breathing, steaming, pot-clanging artwork.
“To Gordon, I think everything in life was an art event,” said Ms. Goodden, who now lives in a small town in New Mexico. “He had cooking all through his mind as a way of assembling people, like choreography. And that, in a way, is what Food became.”
Gordon Matta-Clark at FOOD in 1971. via Phaidon.

Gordon Matta-Clark at FOOD in 1971. via Phaidon.

There is an amazing documentary called Food made by Gordon Matta-Clark and Robert Frank that you can watch here.

FOOD was in many ways ahead of its time: promoting seasonal produce and vegetarian eating at a time when most Americans were being wowed by the convenience of processed foods. Indeed, many of today's popular restaurants have FOOD to thank for paving the way.

The project still resonates deeply today, even inspiring a tribute at Frieze New York 2013, where Carol Goodden created a nourishing soup menu and was on hand to cook one day, as well as many other artists who also developed menus and served dishes inspired by the original FOOD.

Join us for more discussion about Food + Art on July 22 at DELVE. Tickets here

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