Foodies – Daniel Spoerri and Vera Mercer

Daniel Spoerri, 'Eaten by Marcel Duchamp', 1964

Swiss artist Daniel Spoerri is the originator of Eat Art.  Also associated with the New Realist and Fluxus movements, he created his first signature ‘snare picture’ in 1960.  These works consist of objects – often upon tables – found in chance positions of order or disorder.  Each item is fixed or ‘snared’ into place as is.  Only the plane changes, from a vertical to a horizontal format – these works are hung on the wall.  The artist’s most well-known snare picture consists of left-overs of a meal consumed by friend Marcel Duchamp (above).

Spoerri’s interest in food doesn’t end there.  He sold canned food in galleries, wrote a multicultural history of meatballs and opened restaurants staffed solely by members of the art world (he currently has a slow food joint in rural Austria).   It seems only natural then that his former wife, photographer Vera Mercer should be into food too.  Not only did she photograph their contemporaries including Marcel Duchamp, Nikki de St Phalle and Jean Tinguely during the 1950s and 60s, she also photographs fresh produce.  Mercer’s interest in the subject stemmed from her documentation of Paris’s central marketplace, ‘Les Halles’, before its demolition in 1971.

Vera Mercer, 'Naked Deer Head, Omaha', 2008

Since then, food has been the central theme of her work.  The photographs currently on display at Kommunale Galerie, Berlin, sit outside of contemporary art trends, drawing instead on the tradition of the still life  and its symbolism.  Fresh vegetables, withering flowers – a combination of the living and the dead – point towards life’s beauty and its transience.

Vera Mercer, Portraits and Still Lifes, Kommunale Galerie, Hohenzollerndamm 176, Berlin, until April 25.

Foodies – Daniel Spoerri and Vera Mercer