Recently I started work on an exciting project “Bread is Raw Toast” with a very unique personality Mark Oppenheimer. Mark is an assistant director of films by day and an avid chef in his off hours. His passion is to teach kids how to cook exciting, simple and healthy foods to facilitate their independence and knowledge of what to eat. In the process their friends and family may benefit as well. Our project will consist of a quirky recipe book chuck full of interesting, scientific, historical notes antidotes and of course recipes. In the process of our initial talks the artist Arcimboldo came up as a lightening rod for the kind of feeling we both had for the project. And so here are some interesting facts about a largely forgotten genius. (courtesy of the Smithsonian website) And stay tuned for updates on this exciting project
The job of a renaissance court portraitist was to produce likenesses of his sovereigns to display at the palace and give to foreign dignitaries or prospective brides. It went without saying the portraits should be flattering. Yet, in 1590, Giuseppe Arcimboldo painted his royal patron, the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, as a heap of fruits and vegetables. With pea pod eyelids and a gourd for a forehead, he looks less like a king than a crudité platter. Lucky for Arcimboldo, Rudolf had a sense of humor. And he had probably grown accustomed to the artist’s visual wit. Arcimboldo served the Hapsburg family for more than 25 years, creating oddball “composite heads” made of sea creatures, flowers, dinner roasts and other materials.
Though his work was forgotten for centuries, Arcimboldo is enjoying a personal renaissance, with shows at major European museums. At the Louvre, a series of Arcimboldo paintings is among the most popular in the collection. Sixteen of the jester’s best works, including the Louvre series, are on display until January 9 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the first major American exhibition of its kind.
“We wanted people to have the experience that the emperors in the Hapsburg court had,” says David Alan Brown, a National Gallery curator. “To have the same pleasure, as if they were playing a game, to first see what looks like a head and then discover on closer inspection that this head is made of a myriad of the most carefully observed flowers, vegetables, fruits, animals and birds.”
The show is also a chance to get inside Arcimboldo’s own head, itself a composite of sorts. Part scientist, part sycophant, part visionary, Arcimboldo was born in 1526 in Milan. His father was an artist, and Giuseppe’s early career suggests the standard Renaissance daily grind: he designed cathedral windows and tapestries rife with angels, saints and evangelists. Though apples and lemons appear in some scenes, the produce is, comparatively, unremarkable. Rudolf’s father, Maximilian II, the Hapsburg archduke and soon-to-be Holy Roman Emperor, welcomed the painter in his Vienna court in the early 1560s. Arcimboldo remained with the Hapsburgs until 1587 and continued to paint for them after his return to Italy. Click here for more…