MoMA’s Artists’ Cookbook (1978) Reveals the Meals of Salvador Dalí, Willem de Kooning, Andy Warhol, Louise Bourgeois & More


If we can con­sid­er some cooks artists, sure­ly we can con­sid­er some artists cooks. Madeleine Con­way and Nan­cy Kirk sure­ly oper­at­ed on that assump­tion when they put togeth­er The Muse­um of Mod­ern Art Artists’ Cook­book, which col­lects 155 recipes from 30 such fig­ures not pri­mar­i­ly known for their culi­nary acu­men as Sal­vador Dalí, Willem de Koon­ing, Louise Bour­geois, Andy Warhol, Helen Franken­thaler, Roy Licht­en­stein, and Chris­to and Jeanne-Claude. (“Strange­ly,” write the wags at Phaidon, “there are no wraps.”)


Pub­lished in 1978, the Artists’ Cook­book has long since left print, though pricey sec­ond-hand copies of the MoMA-issued edi­tion and some­what more afford­able copies of the spi­ral-bound trade edi­tion still cir­cu­late: Nick Harvill Libraries, for instance offers one for $125.

“Sim­plic­i­ty is a recur­ring theme,” says their site of the recipes con­tained with­in, which include Dalí’s red sal­ad, de Koon­ing’s seafood sauce, Bour­geois’ French cucum­ber sal­ad, Andy Warhol’s per­haps pre­dictable boil­ing method for Camp­bel­l’s canned soup, Franken­thaler’s poached stuffed striped bass, Licht­en­stein’s not entire­ly seri­ous “pri­mor­dial soup” (involv­ing “8cc hydro­gen” and “5cc ammo­nia”), and Chris­to and Jeanne-Claude’s com­plete “quick and easy filet mignon din­ner par­ty.”


Tak­en as a whole, the project cap­tures not just a dis­tinc­tive moment in Amer­i­can cul­ture when you could pub­lish a cook­book with pret­ty much any theme — we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured Dalí’s own, which came out in 1973, and the rock-star-ori­ent­ed Singers & Swingers in the Kitchen, from 1967 — but an equal­ly dis­tinc­tive moment, and place, in Amer­i­can art. MoMA, as you might expect, brought in the artists with whom they had the clos­est con­nec­tions, which in the mid-1970s meant a par­tic­u­lar­ly influ­en­tial cou­ple of gen­er­a­tions who most­ly rose to promi­nence, and stayed in promi­nence, in New York City.


That’s not to say that the con­trib­u­tors to The Muse­um of Mod­ern Art Artists’ Cook­book were born into the art world. Brain Pick­ings’ Maria Popo­va quotes excerpts of the book’s inter­views with the artists about their ear­ly culi­nary lives: Bour­geois rues the “wast­ed hours” spent cook­ing for her father (“in those days a man had the right to have his food ready for him at all times.” De Koon­ing recalls his child­hood in pover­ty in Hol­land where, “when you had din­ner, it was always brown beans.” Dalí and Warhol put their eccen­tric­i­ties on dis­play, the for­mer with his all-white table (“white porce­lain, white damask, and white flow­ers in crys­tal vas­es”) and the lat­ter with his dec­la­ra­tion that “air­plane food is the best food.” De gustibus, as they say in food and art alike, non dis­putan­dum est.


via Phae­don/Brain Pick­ings

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Sal­vador Dalí’s 1973 Cook­book Gets Reis­sued: Sur­re­al­ist Art Meets Haute Cui­sine

The Jean-Paul Sartre Cook­book: Philoso­pher Pon­ders Mak­ing Omelets in Long Lost Diary Entries

Alice B. Tok­las Reads Her Famous Recipe for Hashish Fudge (1963)

Ernest Hemingway’s Sum­mer Camp­ing Recipes

Leo Tolstoy’s Fam­i­ly Recipe for Mac­a­roni and Cheese

1967 Cook­book Fea­tures Recipes by the Rolling Stones, Simon & Gar­funkel, Bar­bra Streisand & More

An Archive of 3,000 Vin­tage Cook­books Lets You Trav­el Back Through Culi­nary Time

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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