Eye Candy

Getty Museum Traces History of Food Photos

Considering the smorgasbord of food-based television shows that have captured audiences in the past decade, it’s no secret that Americans enjoy looking at food—a notion the Getty Museum seized upon with its latest exhibition In Focus: Tasteful Pictures. Tracing food photography from the mid-19th century to today, the show includes still lifes, an art photogram, many contraband food items, but no digital images. The exhibit features works from Man Ray, Weegee, Edward Weston, and Roger Fenton. Virginia Heckert, associate curator, says the images are not intended to simply show off what someone ordered in a restaurant, as many food blogs do these days—but rather they hope to showcase the photographers’ technical skills in their work. In Focus: Tasteful Pictures was spawned by Getty’s desire to show Floris Neususs’ Supper With Heinecken. The 1983 photograph is the size of a dining table using auto reversal paper spread over a table in a darkroom. The diners sat spilling food and drink throughout the course of the meal, allowing the resulting photo to show hands, wine glasses, noodles, utensils, and grapes. “It’s kind of messy, but it’s also fabulous,” Heckert said.