Delicious Obsession: Emily Eveleth Paints Doughnuts in all Their Sugary Glory

When you think of still lifes, a number of subjects come to mind: flowers, glass vessels, an overflowing plate of fruit. Painter Emily Eveleth anoints an artistically overlooked sweet treat: the glorious doughnut.

For the past two decades, Eveleth has centered her practice on the sumptuous, unassuming pastry in a series of grandiose paintings, many of which are on display in a new solo show at Danese/Corey in New York.

For the sweet-toothed among us, the tongue-tingling shock is undeniable. Eveleth transforms the small, round treat into stunning compositions that examine the pastry from every possible angle. In the process, she uncovers new, unexpected vistas of the pastry and its assorted fillings and icings.

Eveleth’s appetizing work relies on her striking use of color. Many of the paintings feature doughnuts ruptured or broken in two as their candy-colored interiors peek through impossibly fluffy dough. For instance, in Burlesque (2015), one doughnut mounts another; a lustful crimson jelly oozes out and vibrates against the stark black background.

Despite the recurring themes, careful attention to lighting helps keep the paintings varied and diverse. The doughnuts are often cast in dramatic light and shadow in a chiaroscuro technique rarely afforded baked goods. For instance, in the 11-foot-long Arbitration (2016), a beam of light shines from above and illuminates a pile of cream-filled donuts, making them appear almost heavenly or angelic, perhaps touched by a divine baker. At this scale, the doughnuts are more boulders than breakfast.


—A. Wagner


Emily Eveleth: New Paintings” is on view at Danese/Corey, New York, Mar. 17–Apr. 16, 2016.

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