Dishing Up Pie Paintings
March 14 is internationally celebrated as Pi Day because the date, 3.14, coincides with the mathematical constant and Greek letter π. But the more mouthwatering riff on today’s festivities is the celebration of Pie Day.
If math and food can come together, why not add art to the mix, too? Here are several artful depictions of pie that are a sweet treat to inspire you in the studio and perhaps when you next sit down to a well-deserved dessert! Enjoy!
Scrumptious Still Life
Mary Ellen Johnson’s Lemon Meringue is only one example from a body of work that can best be described as yum. A precision realist, Johnson turns to food because, “It evokes nostalgia, and an intrinsic yearning for gratification. The food communicates a visual language that crosses the barriers of different cultures, for food is a universal experience.” Her work is featured in “Plate to Paint.”
Don’t Forget the Savory
All the sweet treats can almost make one forget that art pies come in savory too. Flemish artist Pieter Claesz’s depiction of a turkey pie topped with the bird’s head and feathered body isn’t necessarily appealing by today’s foodie standards, but just remember that this painting isn’t about the pies themselves as much as the luxuries baked into them and that appear elsewhere on the table.
In this sumptuous food feast, highly sought-after goods from Asia are what are really on the menu, from the porcelain dish to the nautilus shell to the cinnamon, cloves and ginger you can see baked into the pie painted in the middleground.
Run, Pie, Run
Norman Rockwell’s iconic (though historically problematic) depictions of Americana definitely include a lot of pie. There is pie for Thanksgiving, pie eaten at the diner counter, prayers before pie, making money from pie and more. But an all-time favorite has to be this pie on the go, showing a ne’er-do-well skedaddling with pie in hand and dog on behind.
British artist Arthur Buxton has inadverently taken the pi-pie riff further by adding in pie charts, specifically pie charts that analyze the color schemes of Post-Impressionist master Vincent van Gogh.
He told BoingBoing: “As far as I know, I’ve come up with a novel way of looking at colour schemes. The pie charts are designed to be visually pleasing but also function as a colour trend visualization tool. They represent famous paintings, portraying the five most prominent colours in each as a percentage.”
Can you tell which pie chart coincides with which van Gogh painting?
Pies, Pies, Pies
Wayne Thiebaud might be best termed as the head chef of pie painting though he is a Pop Art icon, too. He has been creating still lifes of slices of cake and pie — and more — for decades. When the work debuted, Thiebaud was hailed alongside Warhol, Rosenquist and Lichtenstein though his painterly methods set him apart from that trio.
His food art isn’t sumptuous or sensual despite the luscious impasto brushwork he employs. The appeal of the works is that they seem self-contained and wholesome. They evoke the nostalgia of the 1950s diner counter and their simple, repetitive, graphic qualities make them as accessible and appealing as the comfort foods they depict.
Food Fight Aftermath
Is it the end of a kitchen food fight? A pie-eating champion’s proudest moment? Or a baking attempt gone wrong? The questions provoked by Lisa Yuskavage’s Crème Pie play out on several levels from silly to absurd to sexually heightened.
As we examine the female figure with a whipped cream face and pie crusts on her blouse, there’s no clear answer. So the answer is clear: wonder endlessly.
Pie As It Is Meant To Be
There aren’t many painted depictions of pie as it should be, as in being consumed. But there was one: Children Eating a Pie by Spanish artist Bartolome Esteban Murillo from the 1670s. The work shows two boys sharing a pie, no forks necessary, as they grab handfuls and pop them directly in their mouth.
Now Learn How to Paint Food with Gusto!
Serving up delicious depictions of art doesn’t stop here. Indulge your artistic palette with even more inspiration from this favorite issue of Artists Magazine.
The issue includes instruction and tips on how to “Plate to Paint,” with a quartet of artists who make the most of edible art subjects. Still life never looked so mouthwatering. Enjoy!