Our floors are being refinished, so I have been at my parents' house for a few days. Last night, my sister came home for dinner. She and my dad and I got into a fairly heated discussion at one point, all about art.
A few months ago, my parents went to see the Matisse exhibit at the BMA. The exhibit, called "Matisse: Painter as Sculptor", includes some paintings but, obviously, focuses on Matisse's three-dimensional works. My dad didn't really like them all that much - though he does like Matisse's paintings - and in conversation last night, he repeatedly mentioned Matisse's lack of artistic achievement in sculpture...especially compared to Michelangelo's David (which he, my mom and sister saw on their trip to Italy about a year and a half ago).
Erin and I are both total art history geeks, so we spent the better part of an hour insisting that to truly appreciate Matisse's sculpture, you have to understand it in the larger sociopolitical and art historical context of the time. My dad is a huge history buff, and I truly think he would enjoy reading a Matisse biography, then reviewing the exhibit again. But he also likes to argue, so he was being obstinate about the whole situation.
There was a lot of eye-rolling on both sides.
And how is this about food? Really, it just made me ask two questions, that really relate to how far I can carry my "food is like art" analogies.
First, as an international relations major and art history minor, the lion's share of my college education revolved around the idea that art is inextricably linked with political, economic and social forces. As a quick example, just before and during World War I, cutting edge art was getting very abstract. In between the world wars, however, there was something of an aesthetic return to classic representation, which art historians attribute to a cultural desire for stability and familiarity in the face of a crazy geopolitical situation.
Does food react in a similar manner? I wonder. I may, if I get it together enough, do a sort of high level review of food trends as they relate to broader cultural issues. I think it could be interesting to see the parallels, if they do in fact exist.
The second thing is sort of a corollary to the first. During the conversation, my sister pointed out that it's not really possible to fully appreciate art in the era in which it's created. You need a little space and time, so you can step back and review it in its context. Again, I wonder if it's the same for food.
Anyway, as I just said to my friend Mark (happy birthday to him and my father-in-law today!) - these are our family dinners. Laughably, pretentiously overintellectual.
But at least I come by it honestly.