What Artists Cook Up in Their Kitchens

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The artist’s studio and the household kitchen have at least one thing in common: in both places, people make things. So, what do artists most like to cook? The Kitchen Studio: Culinary Creations by Artists (Phaidon), a new book edited by Michele Robecchi, is a delightful hybrid of art and gastronomy that presents 100 recipes by 70 international contemporary artists. From El Anatsui’s Nigerian Oha soup with fufu to Kiki Smith’s summer salad with shrimp, readers can try out their favorite artist’s favorite dish. But this is much more than a cookbook. It’s a fun and festive compendium of recipes, stories, advice, photos, collages, and sketches, many created for the book and never published until now.

Some of the book’s participating artists — like Martha Rosler and Rirkrit Tiravanija, who contribute Patriotic Jell-o Gelatin Salad and Thai curry pizza recipes, respectively — have long worked with food and cooking in their practices. Others take an unexpected spin on the concept. Studio Olafur Eliasson, for example, instructs readers about food-based pigments, while David Horvitz’s mushroom soup recipe lists “foggy morning” and “wandering in a forest,” alongside butter and onion, as ingredients. In “Two Cherries,” Nicholas Party directs readers to select a sunny July afternoon to walk around the countryside, find two cherries, and spit the stones as far as possible.

Eamon Ore-Giron’s and Danh Vo’s entries both entail hours- and days-long processes. Others incorporate unconventional ingredients: Bernar Venet makes a meal of lamb brains, and Shimabuku learns to prepare kuchiko (dried sea cucumber ovaries). Abraham Cruzvillegas gives a linguistic and historical meditation on guacamole, while John Lyons writes, “I see no difference between painting a picture, writing a poem, or cooking a delicious meal.” Emily Jacir’s cacio e pepe requires only three ingredients, while Vik Muniz advises those who try his ravioli all’uovo recipe to use “as much white truffle as you can afford,” putting the age-old stereotype of the starving artist aside.

“Art and food have entertained a very close relationship over the centuries, from Arcimboldo to the Futurist cookbook,” Robecchi told Hyperallergic in a recent email. The project behind The Kitchen Studio began at the outset of the pandemic, when so many of us started to spend more time in our kitchens. The artists’ recipes give us a glimpse at an intimate part of their daily lives, families, and experiences. And at its core, the book serves as a poignant reminder of the consolation, exploration, and expression that cooking provides us all. 

Dorothy Iannone, “Cookery, Conversation & Concupiscence” (1983) (image courtesy the artist, Air de Paris and Peres Projects)
“Fallen Fruit. How to Make Jam (and Share With Others)” (image courtesy Fallen Fruit, © David Allen Burns and Austin Young, 2021)
Studio Olafur Eliasson, “Food Pigments on Studio Sourdough (photo by Studio Olafur Eliasson)
The Kitchen Studio: Culinary Creations by Artists (Phaidon)
“Ghada Amer. Mama’s Eggplant Salad,” image: the Carrot Vendor (December 2018), “He sells all different types of carrots as well as some other root vegetables. He is standing in front of my parents’ apartment building in Cairo. Each time I go there I think I am traveling in time and not in space.” (photo courtesy, copyright the artist)
Rirkrit Tiravanija, “Thai green curry pizza with Wagyu beef, eggplant (aubergine), mozzarella and Thai basil” (photo courtesy/copyright the artist)
Klodin Erb, “Green Yellow Red: A Colourful Egg Dance,” image: “Essen, Sex und Kleider #1” (2021), collage, 10 7/8 x 7 7/8 inches (photo courtesy Lullin + Ferrari, Zurich, © Klodin Erb)

The Kitchen Studio: Culinary Creations by Artists is published by Phaidon and available online.

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