An Artist’s Hyperrealistic Food Sculptures Explore Hunger on a Deeper Level

Artsy Editorial
Apr 14, 2015 7:30PM

“A nice state of affairs,” wrote Raymond Chandler in 1939, “when a man has to indulge his vices by proxy.” He might just as well have been describing the experience of walking through “The Foodhist Temple,” an exhibition of appetite-inducing food sculptures by artist Peter Anton.

Installation view of “The Foodhist Temple,” courtesy of UNIX Gallery

You might, of course, indulge in your edible vices of choice—donuts, double cheeseburgers, pepperoni pizza—on a regular basis. But in an era when “clean eating” is king and brussels sprouts are practically more popular than French fries at restaurants around New York, many only taste the pleasures of frosted cake at a child’s birthday party. And that’s precisely where Anton’s Yellow Cake (2015) comes in. The mixed-media sculpture depicting an irresistible, layered chocolate confection is hyperrealistic and larger-than-life; observing it on its pedestal feels like a moment taken from Alice in Wonderland. The only thing missing is an “Eat Me” sign poking out of a floret of fluffy yellow frosting.

Yellow Cake is part of a so-called sanctuary or temple that has taken over Chelsea’s UNIX Gallery. The exhibition is meant to be a place for the public to take their shoes off, quite literally, and interact with the objects of their desire, considering their meaning without physically consuming anything. “I like to create art that can lure, charm, tease, disarm, and surprise,” says Anton. “The sensual nature of the works stirs desire, passion, obsession, and indulgence. I activate the hunger people have for the things that give them pleasure.” 


The lighthearted Connecticut-based artist has been playing with the idea of pleasure and vice for years: “Sugar and Gomorrah,” his over-the-top installation at Art Miami in 2012, took viewers on a roller coaster-like ride past sculptures of indulgent desserts and scantily clad live models set against the titular biblical city in shambles. (“Too much is never enough!” read the work’s promotional poster.) 

Indeed, while wandering through the temple of sculptures at UNIX Gallery, crafted from wood, resin, clay, metal, and acrylic and oil paints, viewers might consider whether they’ll be able to make it home from the gallery without stopping for cupcakes or a takeout pizza on the way. Others, perhaps, will achieve some sort of Zen-like state, as the concept of a temple suggests, about the idea of cravings—and about what we’re really hungry for.

—Bridget Gleeson

The Foodhist Temple” is on view at UNIX Gallery, New York, Apr. 2–May 9, 2015.

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Installation view of “The Foodhist Temple,” courtesy of UNIX Gallery.

Artsy Editorial