May 29, 2024

Do artists tend to be more creative in the kitchen? Picasso's dinner parties are said to have been legendary. Frida Kahlo was a passionate cook and hostess. Monet was a gourmet, and for Ólafur Elíasson, food is even a meaningful element.

Some artists are really passionate about cooking, while others barely know what they're eating. But what fascinates me is that art and cooking have a lot in common. Both require dedication and the ability to enjoy.

“I think everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in, and all your dreams. The way you drink your tea. How you decorate your home. Or party. Your grocery list. The food you make. How your writing looks. And the way you feel. Life is art.”

- Helena Bonham Carter

Creativity as the driving force

The creative force is a key driving force in art - this also applies to the art of cooking. Just like an artist on a canvas, a chef carefully selects the colours and textures of the ingredients. Both artists and chefs draw on their inner wealth of ideas and emotions.

Both must know what they are doing. They have to master their craft. To do this, they need to know their ingredients, and they need to know how to treat them. Both art and cooking are about pleasure, exchange and sensuality.

Aesthetics and presentation

Visual appeal is important in both art and food. We know this from museums and exhibitions, as well as from restaurants: We judge art and food not just on their content or flavour, but also on how they look. This is because how something looks affects how we perceive and experience it. Colours, shapes, composition and textures are elements that are carefully selected and combined to trigger certain emotions and thoughts in the viewer. A painting or sculpture can tell a story, convey a mood, or simply provide aesthetic pleasure through its visual design.

The situation is similar in the kitchen. The presentation of a dish is more than just an aesthetic extra – it is an integral part of the culinary experience. Chefs also use colours, shapes and arrangements. The way a dish is presented can whet the appetite, raise expectations and influence the overall perception of the food.

This starts with the choice of plates, continues with the placement of ingredients and ends with the use of garnishes. It's not just about making the food look good, but also about creating a harmony between appearance and flavour.

In both areas – art and cookery – it's about communicating ideas in a visual way.

A Feast for the Eyes

Each plate is a work of art in itself, with a perfect symphony of colours, shapes and textures.

A Love of Experimentation and Innovation

Chefs and artists are always on the lookout for new ways and fresh ideas. Creativity is about coming up with something new and extraordinary, pushing the boundaries of what we know.

In art, experimentation means trying out new techniques, styles and materials in unusual combinations (bricolage, "crossover").

"To think is to transcend"

- Ernst Bloch

Artists push themselves to try new things in order to improve and expand their way of expression and discover new perspectives. It's no different in the kitchen. Chefs experiment with surprising ingredients, innovative preparation methods and creative presentations.

Examples? I'm thinking of Ferran Adrià, who popularized molecular gastronomy with his experimental approach; or of Jackson Pollock, whose innovative dripping technique revolutionized the art world. Both have shown in their respective fields that true mastery is about more than technical perfection. It's also about being willing to try new things and take risks.
Innovation in art and cookery also means being open to mistakes and failures. It's often the unexpected results that lead to the greatest discoveries. Trying things out, failing and improving (failing upwards), playing with the possibilities and enjoying the new are essential aspects of the creative process.


The drive for creativity is fuelled by passion, the desire to be part of something bigger than yourself, and the deep desire to contribute. This can manifest itself in many different aspects of the tray or tableau. Here is just one example, albeit a spectacular one: colour.

What's the Taste of Colours?

Have you ever eaten in a dark restaurant or blindfolded? How did this affect the flavour? Did it taste more intense or less intense?

Colours have the power to arouse emotions and influence our senses. In the visual arts, as in cookery, colours can be used to convey moods. Just like ingredients in a recipe, colours can also be combined in a painting to achieve a certain effect.

People with synaesthesia experience this particularly strongly. Synaesthesia is a special form of perception in which two or more senses are linked together. For example: seeing sounds, hearing smells or tasting colours.
In literature, synaesthesia is used as a rhetorical stylistic device. One of my favourite examples of this comes from Adalbert Stifter: "The murmur of dawn ..."
Even for people without synaesthesia, colours play a subtle but powerful role in eating. Colours can stimulate the appetite and enhance the taste experience. Our expectations have a major influence on what we taste - and colours (like smells) arouse our expectations.

Which expectations these are in detail depends on our personal experiences, cultural influences, but also with evolutionary factors. Red can take on many meanings, but as far as food is concerned, almost everyone associates the colour with ripe fruit, albeit usually unconsciously.
These kinds of expectations get our taste buds ready for what's to come, which makes the flavour experience even better.

A rainbow of fresh ingredients makes us feel alive and fresh. What do the different colours make us think of?

Effects of colour

Red is for sweetness, like strawberries or red-cheeked apples.
Blue is for cool, refreshing flavours like mint or blueberries.
Yellow is for sour flavours like lemon and pineapple, but also for vitamin richness.
Green is for freshness, like cucumber. It can also be for bitter flavours like rocket or rosemary.
Brown makes us think of rich flavours, like chocolate, coffee or nuts. Or toasty flavours, like roasted meat or bread.
White evokes creamy and mild flavours, like dairy products or vanilla. 

By boldly preserving and at the same time breaking with tradition - whether in the kitchen or in the studio - not only in terms of colour, but also in terms of atmosphere, cultural references, habits and/or aesthetic expectations, artists create new, extraordinary works.

Craftsmanship and Techniques

Anyone who wants to create such extraordinary works needs a high degree of skill, precision and dedication. This is true in all areas of life - and it is no different in art and cooking. Brush or spoon, you have to master your craft in order to break new ground; you have to know all the rules to break them.

Art on a Plate: A taste of Culinary Delights from Artists' Kitchens.

If you're a fan of art and good food like me, I have some book recommendations for you. I'm sure you'll love these books!

by Felicity Souter

The book Painting the Plate brings together creative recipes and impressive artwork, showing how both can work well together. You'll find everything from starters to desserts inspired by famous paintings and sculptures.

The detailed, easy-to-follow instructions and the beautiful photos are particularly impressive. But first, Souter introduces the work of art that inspired her and tells some fascinating stories about it. The book is like a small art museum combined with a fantastic collection of recipes – a feast for the eyes and the palate!

by Florence gentner

This book offers great insights into the life and cuisine of Claude Monet. The recipes – original recipes from his estate – are traditional French country cooking. From savoury stews to sophisticated desserts – each recipe is lovingly described and easy to recreate.

The stories and anecdotes about Monet's table are also great, making the book a real treasure trove for art and cookery lovers. The gorgeous photos and historical images make you feel like you're a guest in Monet's dreamy Giverny.

Gabriella Castellanos

Dinner at Frida's is a great way to learn more about the famous artist's colourful world. You'll find a collection of authentic recipes that she loved to cook herself and share with friends and family.

You'll enjoy traditional Mexican dishes, from savoury tacos and aromatic stews to sweet treats.

The book is full of beautiful photographs and historical images from Frida's life, so it's a pleasure to leaf through. There are also some great stories and anecdotes that make you feel like you're in Frida Kahlo's famous blue house in Coyoacán.

*Just a little note: The links you find in this chapter are affiliate links to Amazon. If you make a purchase through these links, I will receive a small commission – at no extra cost to you. I only recommend things that I love and use myself. Thank you for your support, and have fun browsing and cooking!

Cultural Meaning and Identity

Essaydi Lalla - Women of Morocco Great Odalisque

Lalla Essaydi, a Moroccan artist and photographer, looks at the complex roles and identities of women in the Islamic world in her work.

The culture, tradition and identity of a community is reflected in its art - and in its cuisine. Both preserve memories and pass on cultural values. They reflect the influences of the time and place from which they originate and form the collective memory of a society.

A country's art and cuisine preserve the diversity and uniqueness of its culture. Every work of art, every ingredient, every spice and every cooking technique tells a story about the people and their way of life. They help us see the world through the eyes of others and understand different lifestyles and traditions in a deeper and more meaningful way.

A home-cooked meal can make us feel at home or make us want to travel. Longing, security, a holiday feeling, feeling love and giving love – the practice and enjoyment of art and cuisine evokes these and other feelings in us.

With its regional specialities and traditional recipes, Italian cuisine reflects the diversity and history of Italy.

If you love cooking and watching cooking shows as much as I do, I have a suggestion for you. In the series "Gordon Ramsay: Culinary Adventures," Ramsay travels to different countries to explore their local cuisines and culinary traditions. He learns from local chefs and culinary experts, discovers regional ingredients and traditional preparation methods. In the process, he immerses himself in the respective culture. You can currently catch up on three seasons on Disney Plus.

Art and Cooking: Passion and Dedication

Summarized, passion and dedication are what drive both artists and chefs to be creative. Both fields require not only technical skill and knowledge, but also a deep emotional connection.

This dedication and passion is not only evident in their work, but also in their ability to inspire others. They create works that evoke emotions, tell stories and connect people. Their passion is contagious and encourages others to follow their own creative paths and pursue their dreams.

Both passions united

Some artists are so enthusiastic about food that they have immortalized it in their works of art. These three examples show: Antoine Vollon's "Mount of Butter", Wayne Thiebaud's colourful depictions of cakes and sweets, and Paula Modersohn-Becker's "Still Life with Apples and Pears".

My favourite summer recipe:

Obviously, I can't just write about culinary delights here and stay in theory! So, I'll finish with one of my favourite recipes for the summer. If you like, have fun cooking it!

Cold yoghurt soup with prawn skewers and grilled mango

This soup is a breeze to make, super refreshing, and tastes incredible. It's the perfect thing to have on a hot day.

Ingredients

For the soup

  • 500 g natural yoghurt
  • 300 ml buttermilk
  • 6 ice cubes
  • salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 organic lemon
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 red chilli pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • mint

For the skewers

  • 500 g prawns
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper

For the grilled mango

  • 1 mango (alternatively 2 peaches)
  • honey
  • chilli flakes

Furthermore:

  • Wooden skewers (soaked in water)

Bild mit Image Creator (KI) erstellt.

Preparations

Peel and grate the cucumber. Grate the lemon zest and then squeeze the lemon. Finely chop the garlic. Clean the green onions and cut them diagonally into rings. Deseed and finely dice the chilli. Peel and deseed the mango and cut the flesh into pieces.

How it works

  1. Put the yoghurt, buttermilk, oil and ice cubes in a bowl and blend with a hand blender until it's nice and creamy. Then add the grated cucumber, garlic and grated lemon zest and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Pop the soup in the fridge to chill.
  2. Thread the prawns onto wooden skewers, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Then grill for a few minutes on both sides.
  3. Thread the mango onto skewers and grill on all sides. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with chilli flakes.
  4. Divide the soup into bowls, garnish with spring onions, chilli and mint and serve with a fruit skewer and a prawn skewer.
    Enjoy your meal!

Exchange is Inspiration

Are you Team Art, Team Cooking, or just creative in both worlds?
If you liked my article, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'm always happy to receive feedback. I'm also always on the lookout for new recipes. Do you have one for me?
See you soon! Lea

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About the Author Lea Finke

Lea Finke is an artist with all her soul. In her blog, she talks about inspiration, passion, and encounters with art.

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