The Polygon Gallery’s sweeping exhibition Feast for the Eyes captures the history of photography through the subject of food
Canadian premiere features the work of Nobuyoshi Araki, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, and more than 60 renowned artists
JANUARY 27, 2021 (VANCOUVER, BC) — The Polygon Gallery presents the Canadian premiere of the delectably colourful touring exhibition Feast for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Photography. Initially scheduled for 2020, but postponed due the COVID-19 pandemic, the sweeping show will be on display from March 4 to May 30, 2021. Curated by writer Susan Bright and Aperture Foundation’s senior editor Denise Wolff, Feast for the Eyes tells the history of photography through the enticing lens of food. Featuring the work of more than 60 of the world’s leading artists from the late 19th century to today, including Guy Bourdin, Man Ray, and Wolfgang Tillmans, the exhibition brings together a mouth-watering assortment of over 100 images from photojournalism to fashion photography, from rare cookbooks to advertising.
“Food is a foundational part of the social fabric of all cultures and nations, and Feast for the Eyes grounds us in the desire to picture moments that bridge us as humans,” says Reid Shier, Director of The Polygon Gallery. “The exhibition documents not only the history of photography through one of the most commonly depicted subjects in visual mediums — food — it also illuminates the shifting outlines of our individual and collective identities through acts of communing, hospitality, and sharing. We are delighted to showcase some of the more provocative images created by renowned artists such as Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman, and to share how disparate genres of photography have been used to express food’s central, sustaining, role in our lives.”
Feast for the Eyes is thematically divided into three distinct sections:
Still Life pays homage to photography’s earliest inspiration, still-life painting, with a focus on classical subjects and composition. The images demonstrate how photography has both borrowed from and subverted the genre of still-lifes, while showcasing the technical and artistic potential of the photographic medium. Black-and-white works by photographer Roger Fenton, one of the world’s first war photographers, are featured alongside work of other pioneers, Edward Weston, the first photographer to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship, and Imogen Cunningham, who broke through gender barriers to help redefine modern photography.
Around the Table examines the social and cultural rituals and traditions around food and community. Some highlights include photographs by Weegee (Arthur Felig), who documented everyday rituals around food such as early-morning bagel deliveries in 1930s and 40s New York, and the Foods of the World series of cookbooks published by Time and LIFE, which captured representations of cultural and national identities through food. A special display of both historical and local cookbooks will be showcased adjacent to the section.
Playing With Your Food reveals how food ignites all five of the senses. Carolee Schneemann’s groundbreaking performance Meat Joy NYC (1964) reflects patriarchal views on cooking by visualizing men and women in ecstatic ritual with food. Pop Art’s tongue-in-cheek humour will be on display with Vik Muniz’s peanut butter and jelly recreation of Warhol’s Double Mona Lisa, and Ed Ruscha’s deadpan portraits of cans of Spam. This section is complemented by a library of rare cookbooks attendees can browse through.
Following the 2017 Aperture publication of a book by the same name, Feast for the Eyes has since traveled to Foam (Amsterdam), The Photographer’s Gallery (London) and the Hasselblad Foundation (Gothenburg).
Feast for the Eyes is organized by Aperture Foundation, New York. The exhibition at The Polygon is generously supported by The Babalos Family, and Paula Palyga & David Demers, through their membership in The Polygon’s Exhibition Circle. The exhibition’s media sponsor is News 1130 and its community partner is Capture Photography Festival.
Full list of participating artists Nobuyoshi Araki, Sian Bonnell, Jo Ann Callis, Guy Bourdin, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Lans Christensen, Hannah Collins, Sharon Core, Grant Cornett, Robert Cumming, Imogen Cunningham, Robert Doisneau, Harold (Doc) Edgerton, Roe Ethridge, Marion Faller and Hollis Frampton, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Roger Fenton, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Nan Goldin, Daniel Gordon, Ronny Jaques, Charles Jones, Hiroyo Kaneko, Rinko Kawauchi, Victor Keppler, Carl Kleiner, Luis Lemus, Laura Letinsky, Russell Lee, Ouka Leele, Joseph Maida, Chris Maggio, William H. Martin, Man Ray, Peter Menzel, Keirnan Monaghan and Theo Vamvounakis, Nickolas Muray, Vik Muniz, Helmut Newton, Holger Niehaus, Paul Outerbridge, Irving Penn, JR, Martha Rosler, Ed Ruscha, Carolee Schneemann, Cindy Sherman, Stephen Shore, Sandy Skoglund, Paul Strand, Tony Stellato, Anne Testut, Hank Willis Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, Wolfgang Tillmans, Lorenzo Vitturi, Andy Warhol, Donald Weber, Weegee, Edward Weston, T.R. Williams, Romulo Yanes.
COVID-19 safety protocols
The Polygon has put in place preventative measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. All exhibitions are planned in accordance with the Provincial Health Officer’s most recent order, including capacity restrictions, social distancing, mandatory mask wearing, and sanitization of high-frequency touch points.
About The Polygon Gallery
The Polygon is one of Canada’s most acclaimed photography and media art galleries. The Gallery moved into its Governor General’s Medal-winning building in 2017 after operating as Presentation House Gallery for 40 years. The organization has presented more than 300 exhibitions and earned a reputation as one of Canada’s most adventurous public art institutions. Admission is by donation, courtesy of BMO Financial Group.
Gallery hours Wednesday, 10am–5pm; Thursday, 10am–8pm; Friday–Sunday, 10am–5pm
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Image: Sharon Core, Early American—Still Life with Oranges, 2008, C‐print, courtesy the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York