Su­san Bright; Billy Bragg

Newsweek - - NEWS - —AMY FLEM­ING

AS FOOD MAR­KETERS have long known, we eat with our eyes. But this book by art his­to­rian Su­san Bright shows there’s more to food pho­tog­ra­phy than eye candy or food porn. The com­pen­dium of im­ages from the 1840s to the present day is part so­cial history, tak­ing in hu­mor, as­pi­ra­tion, sex and taste, while also telling the story of pho­tog­ra­phy.

“Eat­ing is one of the most base, vis­ceral and pro­fane acts,” Bright ob­serves in Feast for the Eyes. In this spirit, we see Weegee’s 1940 image of a young man poised to cram a wa­ter­fall of spaghetti into his open mouth; Martin Parr’s famished swim­mers at a fast-food stand in the 1980s; and shots from Peter Men­zel’s 2005 pho­to­jour­nal­ism project, Hun­gry Planet, in which fam­i­lies in dif­fer­ent coun­tries stand next to their week’s gro­ceries.

But there’s an­other, equally com­pelling story here: the evo­lu­tion of food styling. The Tech­ni­color plat­ters of 1970s Weight Watch­ers recipe cards—for dishes like a “crown roast of frank­furters”—sit in hi­lar­i­ous con­trast to the 21st-cen­tury ob­ses­sion with au­then­tic­ity and sim­plic­ity—a hum­ble pork chop, for ex­am­ple, carameliz­ing in a pan of but­ter froth ( Bon Ap­pétit mag­a­zine, 2013). You might not want to eat a crown of hot dogs, but the photo makes a good case for their glo­ri­fi­ca­tion in art.

Feast for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Pho­tog­ra­phy By Su­san Bright Aper­ture, out now $60 HUN­GRY YEARS: Clock­wise from top left: Mccall’s mag­a­zine shoot, circa 1943; “SelfPor­trait With Eighty Cakes,” by Tim Walker, 2008; “Peas on a Plate,” by Sandy Skoglund, 1978; Gen­eral Mills cam­paign, 1947.

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