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Edible Art From the 16th to 19th Centuries Explored in Exhibition at the Getty Center

February 26 - May 21, 2000
Press Preview: February 25, 9-11 a.m.

January 14, 2000

LOS ANGELES--A new Getty Research Institute exhibition, The Edible Monument: The Art of Food for Festivals, on view from February 26 through May 21, will explore artistic decorations and monuments made of food for aristocratic banquets and street festivals in 16th- through 19th-century Europe. While the original works of edible art have long since been consumed or carried off, their artistic designs are preserved in the Getty’s superior collection of festival books and prints on view in the exhibition. The works depict towering, fantastical Baroque centerpieces and ephemeral architecture that were created out of sugar paste, fruits, pastries, roasted pigs, ice, and precious metals.

The Edible Monument will feature 70 prints, including works from cookbooks, serving manuals, and deluxe festival books, as well as an installation demonstrating the art of sugar sculpture. Objects will be arranged to show the variety of edible art from the period, with a spotlight on the festivals staged for Louis XIV at Versailles that set a standard for ephemeral art imitated throughout Europe. Cookbooks such as Juan de la Mata’s Arte de Repostería (The Art of Making Desserts), published in 1747, provide step-by-step directions for serving desserts in the form of palaces, fortresses, and gardens. Other exhibition highlights include a selection of Neapolitan prints of grand edible monuments that feature triumphal arches, ancient ruins, obelisks, fountains, and even fireworks.

A full-scale sugar sculpture, created by culinary historian Ivan Day from 18th-century designs, will also be on display. On loan from Fairfax House, York, England, Palace of Circe, Dessert Table after Menon (1997) depicts a classical temple with balustrades and sugar sand parterres. It was originally designed to instruct guests on the consequences of gluttony with a story about Ulysses’ men who were turned to pigs by the sorceress Circe.

"When art is made of food, it changes the viewer’s experience entirely," explains Marcia Reed, curator of rare books, Getty Research Institute. "Artistic presentations of food provide sensory gratification as well as visual pleasure."

During the run of The Edible Monument, the Restaurant at the Getty Center will serve special desserts inspired by the exhibition. Restaurant information and reservations can be made by calling 310-440-7300.

The exhibition also provides fascinating links to the Baroque environments on view in the Museum’s decorative arts galleries.

Related Events
Admission to the lectures is free, but reservations are required and can be made by calling 310-440-7300. Parking at the Getty Center is $5.

Edible Monuments: The Art of Food for Festivals
Marcia Reed, curator of rare books, Getty Research Institute
Thursday, March 2, 4 p.m.
Getty Research Institute Lecture Hall
The Edible Monument: The Art of Food for Festivals will be open for viewing until 9 p.m.

Lecture by Ivan Day, culinary historian specializing in re-creations of Baroque banquet sculptures
Wednesday, April 26, 4 p.m.
Getty Research Institute Lecture Hall

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
Peter Brown, director, Fairfax House, England
Thursday, May 18, 4 p.m.
Getty Research Institute Lecture Hall
The Edible Monument: The Art of Food for Festivals will be open for viewing until 9 p.m.

Family Festival:
This special day of family fun at the Getty Center will feature music and dance performances and several art-making workshops, including one in which children can make their own edible monuments from pasta using classical-style buildings as inspiration.
Saturday, March 25, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Getty Center. Free.

Related Exhibition:
Carmontelle’s Transparency: An 18th-Century Motion Picture
March 14-May 28, 2000
A recently acquired 18th-century transparency that can be cranked through a viewing box to suggest animation will be featured in this exhibition exploring French leisure class amusements of the period.

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About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

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