"Nighthawks" is coming to the Amon Carter Museum. Edward Hopper's 1942 late-night rendering of a sleepy American diner inspired poetry, film scenes and parody, spreading as far as The Simpsons and That '70s Show. This year it leaves its permanent location at the Art Institute of Chicago and travels to Fort Worth as part of the culinary-focused exhibit Art & Appetite.
An expansive exploration of the portrayal of food in American art, this exhibit is organized chronologically starting with the 18th century, barring an entire section, which is dedicated entirely to food-centric representations of Thanksgiving. The turkey day paintings will include the iconic family gathering by Norman Rockwell, "Freedom from Want," as well as Roy Lichtenstein's pop art representation of the holiday bird.
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For centuries the universality of food has given artists an entry point into the human experience. In Art & Appetite, the evolution of how we prepare and consume food is documented in paintings. Twentieth-century works like William Michael Harnett's "For Sunday's Dinner" document the tireless efforts of food preparation, which eventually leads into the mid-20th century "age of convenience," with paintings like Andy Warhol's "Campbell's Soup." The food that was once hunted and gathered is now available on grocery store shelves. These kinds of observations fill Art & Appetite. Food is everything from decoration to political statement.
From the early still lifes of fruit and cheese, to the smiling faces in Rockwell's dining scene, to the lonelyhearts in Hopper's "Nighthawks," this exhibition points to the integral role food plays in everyday life. In America, artists were memorializing their meals long before Instagram filters. Because food, like art, is a shared experience.
If you find yourself inspired by any of the food in the paintings, the Art Institute of Chicago put together a cookbook. Art & Appetite opens at the Amon Carter Museum, 3501 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, February 22 and runs through May 18. Admission to the museum is free.