Is cooking an art?
Posted 09 April 2002 - 06:16 PM
StefanyB-Gee it sounds like you know much more about art than I do. But I will bet you that centuries from now, nobody will remember art that has disappeared And I take exception with your statement that music disappears. Ending, and disappearing are two different things. Christo wrappings disappear but they are still art. Fortunately, they don't disappear during the time they are intended for display.
So I will stick with my definition of art being something that isn't functional. Meaning, not intended by the artist for any use other than pure aesthetics. So music, films, books, paintings scultpture, dance, and a few others are art. But food is well, food. You eat it. And maybe the best analogy is the difference between dancing you watch, and dancing you actually do like the cha cha cha. And no matter how mean I do the cha cha, it ain't art. Dancing that is art is performed by "artists" who I watch, not participate with. And that is because what they do is purely aesthetic. What I do is sort of klutzy.
And I think that your point about Warhol's soup can being iconography, i.e., not functional, seems to bolster the point that his intent was purely aesthetic. And Campbell's cans are purely functional. Or maybe you can educate me about something here. What stops me from trying to sell a Campbell's can of soup to a museum?
Posted 09 April 2002 - 10:33 PM
It's interesting that all the cooks so far cited as artists have been professional chefs working in restaurants. So we have at least assumed that these "artists" are *career* artists, doing it for money. Someone will immediately insist that such-and-such a domestic cook is also an artist; my point is simply that we have thus far assumed professional status. The notable exception is our quoted Zen Master, but Zen is by self-declaration outside the discipline of philosophy and aesthetics, and so is free to use the word "art" in any way it chooses, including the paradoxical.
Any object which is put on display primarily to be purchased or looked at is art. A dead animal is art if it's displayed in a museum between two glass plates; if it's served up on a single glass plate in order to be consumed, it isn't. But take that glass plate to a museum, and it *is* art.
There's an interesting borderline area. Our neighbor across the street is one of the world's leading makers of food for photography and display. Her job is to make objects which look exactly like food which is about to be eaten, however fragile, but to make it permanent. The object of her craft is, in fact, deception.
Is she an artist? Her work is on permanent display all over the world. We are into the paradoxical world of forgery. What is the status of something which pretends to be what it isn't? The label which one places on her will be problematical until a museum curator somewhere decides that her work is so remarkable that examples of it should be brought together and displayed, not to represent something else, but as, in fact, art objects in their own right. At that point she will unambiguously and unequivocally become an artist. Perhaps someday she will be called upon to reproduce the towering structures served up by celebrity chefs in fashionable restaurants. The chefs themselves will be artists only if they design these dishes explicitly for display and then commission our neighbor to make them; at that point she will once again be demoted to craftsperson, like the workers in bronze who made the sculptures of Rodin under his supervision.
(Are my culinary perigrinations art? It's ambiguous; I've been known to eat my words. )
Posted 10 April 2002 - 03:24 AM
Sure they're interesting, but they're not remotely philosophical. They range between shopping lists, menus, requests for money, and vague rantings.
Actually, Van Gogh's letters to his brother, which run to hundreds of pages, are a pretty interesting read
Wilfrid, why do we need to produce a rigorous definition of art ? All we need is for a sufficiently consensual working definition, and then conclude whether or not cooking in particular falls within that definition. I agree that such a working definition might then be unusable to determine whether the Chrysler Building is art, or Tracey Emin is an artist, but we don't care about those.
So far, I think there is consensus that art has to contain the following elements:
The ability to generate a sensual response from human beings
There is not yet consensus on :
but I don't think it will take long to reach consensus on these minor elements
Posted 10 April 2002 - 04:14 AM
John, that's a major cop-out. On that basis, you can't hold any intelligent discussion because of the possibility of semantic differences. A Rembrandt painting is art, and an ant is not art. No-one in the world will disagree with that. As you add things to that list of two, some things will immediately be accepted as art, and others immediately accepted as not art. At some point, the consensus will get less and less as you go from 100% agreement down to 0%. Those things on which there is inadequate consensus are acknowledged as unclassifiable. So what ? You still finish up with a valid definition of art, and there is no serious problem with holding discussions around that definition.
The identification of art with personal preference makes all subsequent discussion circular and irresolvable
Nothing at all remarkable about that. Why would anyone refer to a cook that no-one had heard of ? You're drawing an invalid conclusion here, John. Art is not in any sense a solely professional pursuit.
It's interesting that all the cooks so far cited as artists have been professional chefs working in restaurants
(I'll assume you mean "and" not "or" which clearly couldn't make sense)
Any object which is put on display primarily to be purchased or looked at is art
Nope. On this basis a piece of plain wallpaper is art.
Why ? Just because the museum says so in order to justify itself ? What about the fly that accidentally got into the showcase and died from lack of oxygen. Does that then become art ?
A dead animal is art if it's displayed in a museum between two glass plates
This is pure syllogism. You just want to prove that discussion of art is circular and irresolvable. I've already indicated above why the second postulation is suspect. The first has not yet even been addressed by you, much less indicated.
..if [a dead animal is] served up on a single glass plate in order to be consumed, it isn't. But take that glass plate to a museum, and it *is* art
Your closing example misses the whole point. The question of whether a photograph is art or not has nothing to do with the object being photographed, it has to do with the photographer's capability to produce a response from the viewer of the photograph. Your use of the word "deception" is both disingenuous and unnecessarily emotive. The artist presents his perceptions or emotions or thoughts with the object of showing these to others. Is that deception, is it wrong ? Sometimes, the artist may be trying to persuade others, but that is a specialised sub-form of art and does not come close to the generality of art.
Whether your neighbor's photograph of a steak is art or not depends on how, and with what purpose, she takes the photograph, and what effect seeing the photograph has on a viewer. To say her job is to make something temporary permanent is meaningless - her job is no such thing. She is deceiving only if her photograph is deliberately not representative of the steak she is photographing, but she claims that it is.
Your use of the word forgery is way off the mark. Her photograph claims to be exactly what it is. It claims to be a photograph of a steak. Are you saying she claims that it is a steak ? If so, she must be a helluva photographer.
You then go on to say that she will become an artist only if some museum curator so decides. That's a terribly elitist and quite invalid presumption.
John, I think you laid out your position in the your sentence, and you've just engineered the rest of your post artificially to meet your proposition. And no, I don't think that postal engineering is art
Posted 10 April 2002 - 04:29 AM
In other words, we should allow ourselves our enthusiastic exaggerations without being required to logically defend them. We know which of our friends delight in hyperbole and so can easily determine the ration between their enthusiasm and their discrimination.
Posted 10 April 2002 - 04:32 AM
Posted 10 April 2002 - 05:26 AM
Posted 10 April 2002 - 06:43 AM
The word “artist” starts out with a similarly broad application, but jumps straight into the realm of scholarship: “1 A person who is master of the liberal arts; a learned person. 2. A person who is a master of a practical science or pursuit; a medical practitioner, astrologer, astronomer, alchemist , professor of occult sciences, chemist, etc.” Only at this point does a modern connotation enter the picture: “3 A person who cultivates or practices one of the fine arts, now esp. painting.” Well down the list comes “6=artisan. obs. A person who makes his or her craft a fine art. M17.” – in other words, obsolete since the middle of the 17th century.
So we may refer comfortably to "the art of cookery", but we should be aware that, if we also insist on assigning the label “artist” to a chef, we are going back to a usage of the word not current for 350 years. My own feeling is that “art” and “artist” are words whose usefulness diminishes if we attempt to broaden their definition so widely as to make them even more ambiguous than they already are. They should not be epithets of status bestowed on a craft or occupation merely as a seal of approval. Otherwise, we are into the indiscriminate world of Alice in Wonderland, in which “all shall have prizes”.
Posted 10 April 2002 - 08:05 AM
Macrosan, I tried to warn you, but here we go again .
The ability to generate a sensual response from human beings
Just to deal with your three consensual points:
Art must be aesthetically motivated. Tautology. It's like saying an activity is "cooking" if it is "culinarily motivated".
Must evoke a sensual response. Well, yes, it must be possible that someone, somewhere can see/hear/touch/smell or taste it (note smell and taste, there). But that's hardly draws a line between what is art and what isn't.
Human creation. What about found objects? Anyway, hardly distinguishes art from non-art.
So the consensus thus far evaporates like the air in a gougere.
And the functional thing again. Major art galleries in New York have recently exhibited motorbikes, clothes by Versace and Armani, and the building plans of Mies van der Rohe. Functional gear? damn right. Not art? Who made you (and that's addressed to all of us) the art police? Or does a motorbike become art once it's wheeled into the gallery and parked up for display? If so, it would be consistent to acknowledge that a meal would become art if it was served in a gallery rather than a restaurant.
Disappearing art? Stefany is right and there are a million examples. Performance pieces (which are not necessarily recorded), walks, happenings, and - increasingly - art works actually created with the intention that they would decay and vanish. Stuff made out of chocolate for instance.
As I stated last time we addressed this, I am an agnostic about whether cooking is an art form or not. And I do not necessarily disagree with some of the views here expressed about what art can and should be. My role in this thread is anarchistic (by which I do not mean pettily disruptive). I just plan to point out that art exceeds any boundaries you are likely to try and draw around it.
Posted 10 April 2002 - 08:15 AM
"Aesthetic motivation of art" is only tautological if you have already accepted that art is aesthetically motivated and the key is the word "motivation". So if someone accidentally drops blobs of paint on a canvas (no, that's not a dig at 'modern art') even if it looks like art, it doesn't qualify under my definition.
Sensual response alone obviously doesn't draw a distinction between art and non-art. It's not suggested that it does. I simply say that it's one necessary component.
My point about human creation goes to exactly the point you raise. Painting doene by a chimpanzee is not art. Found objects are not art. They may imitate art, but that's about it.
And I'll repeat that I believe there is very wide consensus on those three elements.... except for declared anarchists, of course
Posted 10 April 2002 - 08:26 AM
Found objects are not art. They may imitate art, but that's about it.
Sorry, but Marcel Duchamp's urinal, signed "R. Mutt", disposed of this distinction once and for all.
Posted 10 April 2002 - 08:31 AM
“SKILL, ART OR SCIENCE? This question is sometimes posed. The answer must be that cookery can be any or all of these; it depends on who is cooking, in what context, and for what purpose.
“The language used in medieval cookery texts (mostly manuscripts) is consonant with the skill view. Yet there is also a touch of what would now be called ‘science’ in some of them, because they assume that the choice of foods and combinations of foods is a branch of medicine, or at least a close ally thereof; see GALEN and FOUR HUMOURS.
“Next, the art view. This necessarily has to be combined with the skill view. If cookery is an art, then according to the normal usage of the terms ‘art’ and ‘artist, it is only done well and properly by a limited number of people—corresponding in practice to the great chefs of the time. They are the artists, who stand out like mountaintops among the foothills. Lower down come the vast majority of the practitioners, who go through similar but less complicated and subtle motions in their kitchens, and who are no more than artisans.” [Note Davidson’s condescending use of this word.]
He then goes on to trace this view through history, and then deals with the science view, culminating in Harold McGee. The final summing up reads:
“The 20th century has seen, on the whole, an increasing tendency to treat the most prominent chefs as artists. At the same time, however, the works of McGee and others . . . have reminded readers that much of the art displayed has to rest on a scientific basis. And, of course, the vast majority of people have continued their lives on the tacit assumption that cookery is a skill, which some people have more than others.”
In other words, whether you choose to call a chef an artist or an artisan or a scientist or an entertainer – or a charlatan - you will find a substantial number of people who agree with you. Who am I to argue with Alan Davidson?
Posted 10 April 2002 - 09:35 AM
Come on Macrosan, these are half volleys
So if someone accidentally drops blobs of paint on a canvas (no, that's not a dig at 'modern art') even if it looks like art, it doesn't qualify under my definition.
Found objects: what John Whiting said.
Accidental blobs of paint? You have eliminated a galaxy of modern artists, and I don't just mean Jackson Pollock and the rest of the abstract expressionists. Francis Bacon avowedly introduced chance drips, blobs and brushstrokes into his paintings - so does that mean that part of a Bacon painting is art and part isn't? And what if we get into music (John Cage, various Fluxus composers) or literature (automatic writing, found texts)...?
Chimpanzees. Well, no disrespect to the so-called "outsider" artists, but the art works (ranging from quite elaborate productions to frenzied scribbles) produced by schizophrenics fetch a tidy sum on the market these days. Galerie St Etienne in New York specialises in this field. What the intentions and motivations of these unfortunate people are, you are free to speculate.
Note, I am not saying your opinions on these topics are wrong. Not at all. I am just pointing to the fact that there is by no means a consensus even at this basic level - in fact a healthy school of opinion on the other side.
Posted 11 April 2002 - 03:31 AM
First, when the Guggenheim displays motorcycles or Amani, they display them as functional objects where enough aesthetic has been included in the DESIGN. It is similar to the Metropolitan Museum having an exhibition of Richard Avedon photos that were shot as advertisements for fashion magazines. No matter how much Avedon intended that the photos be art, the art was COMPROMISED by the need for the pictures to serve another purpose, i.e., they were not purely aesthetic. So that would make a difference between a Rietfeld chair, or one made by Philippe Starck that you can sit in, and a chair made by someone like a Warhol that is merely for looking at.
This obviously raises the question of what happens when something is designed for a PURPOSE and over time, the usefulness or functionality ceases to exist. Rietfeld is a perfect example because if you are fortunate to own an original chair, chances are you would only display it, and not dare sit in it for risk of damage. But all that point expresses is a statement of value. And that's because the Rietfeld is worth so much money that the value significantly outweighs the function. And to prove this point, after the Guggenheim's motorcycle exhibit is over, and after the Armani exhibit ended, donors drove off on their motorcycles while wearing their Armani suits. Quite a different reality than someone taking something away from the museum that hasn't any function. Unless, you have seen someone wear their Van Gogh as body shield.
As for diappearing art, there is no such thing according to the definition that John Whiting and I are using. To restate it for clarity, art is something without functionality that is created purely for aesthetic purposes. So anything where an ending is written into the art, qualifies as part of the artists purpose for the aesthetic. So music, books, movies, etc., their ending (or disappearing the way people are using it,) is created as part of the aesthetic. It's not a function of the audience in any way. This aspect reaches to conceptual art as well. As I said about Christo, when he wraps the Pont Neuf, it isn't intended to last for ever. And when it disappears, it disappears in reality, not in concept. He can always wrap it again. But it never ever disappears as a matter of function. It doesn't wear out from use the way a motorcycle, suit, chair, or entree for that matter does.
So nobody is disputing that art can exceed any boundry that we can draw for it. But that boundry is limited by what artists can define as purely aesthetic. And so far, the food I've seen that is art is not for eating. It gets sprayed into permanance. Then it becomes art made out of food. Otherwise, it's merely food and it gets eaten, even if it has an important aesthetic to it.
Posted 11 April 2002 - 05:36 AM
Right. And the "reality" continues in the extensive photographing which usually accompanies such projects.
As I said about Christo, when he wraps the Pont Neuf, it isn't intended to last for ever. And when it disappears, it disappears in reality, not in concept. He can always wrap it again.
Another example is Andy Goldsworthy, the creator of truly beautiful structures made of leaves, twigs, ice and other fragile materials, usually in isolated locations. He photographs them and the photos then become a permanent record of the ephemeral.
Posted 11 April 2002 - 05:54 AM
"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.
"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."
Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM
Posted 11 April 2002 - 06:20 AM
Posted 11 April 2002 - 06:37 AM
The burial chambers are in "Time."
Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant
Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo
Posted 11 April 2002 - 06:40 AM
A dead animal is art if it's displayed in a museum between two glass plates
Why ? Just because the museum says so in order to justify itself ?
I think you misunderstand the role of Museum's and Galleries. Their primary roles are (amongst other things) to preserve their objects, increase awareness through education and to research/curate their collections.
Large public Museums & Galleries don't reallly set trends but reflect what's going on now or enlighten us about the past. Smaller privately run galleries can set trends by finding new artists but rarely do major public galleries show untested or unknown artists.
The media & critics (real critics, not just hacks) probably have more of an influence in deciding what's worthy of seeing or talking about. And if no one talks about you how do you get known?
Posted 11 April 2002 - 07:00 AM
By displaying an object, an (art) museum is stipulating that the object is indeed art. It's using its name and reputation to validate that judgement. My point is that some such museums first decide that they want to exhibit something in order to attract publicity, maybe notoriety, and thereby crowds. To justify their headline-grabbing display, they have to claim that their exhibit is art.
I just don't trust museums, with the financial pressures they have, to be the guardians of the English language. And my lack of trust is continually confirmed by the antics of galleries such as the Tate.
Posted 11 April 2002 - 09:16 AM
My main point is that the stipulations being advanced are arbitrary (which is not the same as wrong). A Guggenheim curator might say that the motorbikes displayed surpassed their functionality and should be regarded as full asthetic objects. Steve would disagree. I don't feel strongly either way. But by what criteria do we decide who is right and who is wrong? And is it necessarily the case that someone is right and someone is wrong, or is "art" a concept with fuzzy boundaries?
By the way, it would be a good idea to get away from the "visual arts" model, as if cooking is an art form, there's no reason it should have any more in common with paintings and sculptures than they do with music, dance or literature. Incidentally, if you think about which organs of taste are delighted by cooking, it's hardly surprising that it "disappears" (although of course, the concepts/recipes don't). I don't know why this is an automatic disqualification from being an art work.
Posted 11 April 2002 - 09:49 AM
The way in which to view culinary pursuits that would fit the mold of artistic production would be with regard to transformation (a very necessary aspect of the artistic endeavor). The final product would transform itself from food to you know what via the human alimentary canal. Now thats art.
Posted 11 April 2002 - 10:50 AM
Posted 12 April 2002 - 02:10 AM
Wilfrid-But they aren't arbitrary. For them to be arbitrary, what is art and what isn't is in the eyes of the beholder. That's wrong. Art is a statement made by an artist. That is why a dead cow isn't art but a dead cow put between two plates of glass is. The latter contains the the artist's statement and the former is just nature.
This distinction doesn't change because something was manufactured like a suit or a motorcycle. When Armani makes a suit, his statement is that it's functional, not that it's aesthetic. Now a suit with three arms and legs, that would be art because the intent would be aesthetic, not functional. Unless you would wear that?
I think there is a subtle distinction here that looms large which is, a curator can't be the person to put glass around an Armani suit and call it art. Only an artist can do that. And even if you took Armani suits and set them up in the most artistic display, that wouldn't be art. That's what window dressers do. And the difference is what they are expressing. A suit with three legs, made for display between two sheets of glass expresses something about life. While a suit on a mannequin in Barney's window expresses something about the functionality of the suit.
Posted 12 April 2002 - 02:25 AM
I understand that point, Steve, and it certainly is a very commonly held definition. My point is that it's not a useful definition of the word because it denies any objectivity, and that in turn makes it impossible to discuss whether or not something is art, and that in turn diminishes that process which I call art. In short, it places Beethoven in the same field of human endeavour and aspiration as Tracey Emin, and I think that's a shame.
Art is a statement made by an artist
I believe that an objective definition of the word "art" is not only possible, and desirable, but also that the majority of English speaking people already have such a general definition.
And please tell us what "A suit with three legs, made for display between two sheets of glass" expresses about life. I'm all agog :wow:
Posted 12 April 2002 - 07:37 AM
I actually said "I don't trust museums ... to be guardians of the English language", in this case to define what is meant by the word "art". I repeat that what I see the Tate Gallery doing confirms my view that they are willing to redefine the word on a regular basis in order to court notoriety, and therefore revenue. I would have no problem if they got someone to drop a pile of bricks in their forecourt, and then said to the public "Come and see these bricks, guys, because they happen to have fallen in a really interesting configuration, the light plays on them in an amazing way when the sun is low, and the whole thing is really attractive". But to say "Come and see this because this is art" is pure attention-seeking. People pay to see it not because they think it's art, but because they want to see what the Tate is calling art.I am curious to know what it would take to gain your trust?.
I just don't trust museums
Maybe I'm over-sensitive to the Tate in particular, because it happens to house my most favorite art collection in the world (the Turner collection) and it angers me to see people whom I view as unworthy being the guardians of such a collection
BLH, I am not suggesting for a moment that my view applies to all museums (and galleries). I intrinsically do trust them, until they do something to lose my trust. Of course a museum exhibits things other than art, and clearly my objection applies only if they "pretend" something is art when it isn't (in my view).
Posted 12 April 2002 - 08:19 AM
At lot of "traditional" art can be appreciated a various levels - from the superficial "its pretty" or "that's well painted" to whatever level of depth you want. You can walk around an old master museum have a very enjoyable time just looking (note - I'm not trying to imply that you appreciate is superficial). Its just that a lot of modern art isn't simple - particularly instillations. I run past these in galleries partly because I don’t understand them but mainly because they bore me. I feelt the same with minimalism.
Even after finding out what's going on I am often left with - is that it - feeling. Modern art galleries like the Tate could help matters more by making educational help text more available in galleries but that's always a hot issue in any organisation. Even poor souls like Tracy Emin (I can’t believe I'm about to defend her) when you starting to look into what she's doing - its quite interesting. It doesn’t make me like her work more but I do have a little more respect for her.
I often get the feeling people judge without investigating (I do it myself).
Posted 12 April 2002 - 05:35 PM
Now here's a sentiment I can embrace. I would also add "without allowing for consideration of the history of art and of the body of art critical writings".
I often get the feeling people judge without investigating (I do it myself).
You know what they say about opinions.
Posted 13 April 2002 - 02:21 AM
Curiously – the Tate’s bricks (Carl Andre’s Equivalence VIII) has permeated our culture in a way that virtually no other work of art has over, say, the last 30-40 years. Whether its good or bad thats quite an impressive achievement for any work of art.