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Antidiets of the Avant-Garde

From Futurist Cooking to Eat Art

2009
Author:

Cecilia Novero

Antidiets of the Avant-Garde

Reveals the multiple intersections of the European avant-garde with food

Cecilia Novero discusses an aspect of the European avant-garde that has often been neglected—its relationship to the embodied experience of food. She exposes the key roles that food plays in the theoretical foundations and material aesthetics of works ranging from the Italian Futurist Cookbook to the magazine Dada, Walter Benjamin’s writings on eating and cooking, Daniel Spoerri’s Eat Art, and the French New Realists.

Caringly dismantling the misunderstanding that has often limited modernist aesthetics—namely, that avant-garde art is to be ascetic and skeptical of bodily experience—Cecilia Novero’s impressive study takes a more playfully Nietzschean approach by demonstrating that the European avant-garde cannot properly be understood without appreciating the role that allegories and material practices of incorporation play within it. This book is a delicious
morsel.

Gerhard Richter, University of California-Davis

Discussing an aspect of the European avant-garde that has often been neglected—its relationship to the embodied experience of food, its sensation, and its consumption—Cecilia Novero exposes the surprisingly key roles that food plays in the theoretical foundations and material aesthetics of a broad stratum of works ranging from the Italian Futurist Cookbook to the magazine Dada, Walter Benjamin’s writings on eating and cooking, Daniel Spoerri’s Eat Art, and the French New Realists.

Starting from the premise that avant-garde art involves the questioning of bourgeois aesthetics, Novero demonstrates that avant-garde artists, writers, and performers have produced an oppositional aesthetics of indigestible art. Through the rhetoric of incorporation and consumption and the use of material ingredients in their work, she shows, avant-garde artists active in the 1920s and 1930s as well as the neo-avant-garde movements engaged critically with consumer culture, memory, and history.

Attention to food in avant-garde aesthetics, Novero asserts, reveals how these works are rooted in a complex temporality that associates memory and consumption with dynamics of change.

Antidiets of the Avant-Garde

Cecilia Novero is lecturer of German and European studies at the University of Otago in New Zealand.

Antidiets of the Avant-Garde

Caringly dismantling the misunderstanding that has often limited modernist aesthetics—namely, that avant-garde art is to be ascetic and skeptical of bodily experience—Cecilia Novero’s impressive study takes a more playfully Nietzschean approach by demonstrating that the European avant-garde cannot properly be understood without appreciating the role that allegories and material practices of incorporation play within it. This book is a delicious
morsel.

Gerhard Richter, University of California-Davis

The history of taste has long harbored a repressed field of knowledge, that of cuisine, which had been metaphorized out of existence in traditional aesthetic theory. Today, as the culinary has finally found its place in theoretical and museological endeavors, certain works promise to become the foundation of a new, pluridisciplinary field that includes gastronomy. Among them is Antidiets of the Avant-Garde. It may be said that this book illuminates the culinary unconscious of our modernity. It is essential reading for all those interested in modern art, and for all those who love to eat.

Allen S. Weiss, author of Feast and Folly: Cuisine, Intoxication, and the Poetics of the Sublime

In this interdisciplinary study, Novero provides a detailed analysis of how food and food-related activities provide rich context for explorations of the blurring of boundaries between art and daily life.

Choice

Antidiets is certainly successful in capturing both the avant-garde’s interdiscipliarity and its
multimediality. And scholars of the avant-garde will discover in Antidiets a unique
history not yet told in any national or international context. Novero’s monograph on the intersection of food, the avant-garde and the consuming human body achieves a great deal.

German Quarterly

In her sophisticated and rigorous study, Cecilia Novero provides readers with a novel understanding of the objectives and achievements but also the contradictions and shortcomings of twentieth-century avant-garde movements. It will be difficult for future avant-garde research to ignore this study.

Monatshefte

Simultaneously accessible and thought provoking.

Parallax