Whitney Museum, New York
By: Andrea K. Scott
The oldest known still-lifes are ancient Egyptian—frescoes of figs for the afterlife. The Assyrians carved pomegranates from ivory. And so it continued, from Caravaggio’s grapes to Cézanne’s apples. In the mid-twentieth century, produce became a material, not just a subject. In 1962, the Fluxus artist Alison Knowles wrote a simple score for a performance: “Make a Salad.” The greens can serve dozens or hundreds. On the eighth floor of the Whitney, the sharp-witted New York Conceptualist Darren Bader offers food for thought in the variable installation “Fruits, Vegetables: Fruit and Vegetable Salad.” (The museum acquired the undated piece in 2015.) Forty pedestals are topped with a visually striking variety of edible readymades, which on a recent visit included a kumquat, an artichoke, rainbow chard, an aloe leaf, and a pineapple. Every two days (before they spoil), the sculptures transubstantiate into ingredients when a team from the nearby restaurant Untitled chops them into a superbly weird salad.