One of art’s universal subjects is food—the rituals associated with growing, or otherwise procuring our “daily bread,” have been depicted in art for many millennia. There’s no question that today, as in centuries past, dining is a daily event, and something we generally celebrate in literature and music as well as art.
In Dinner Bell, we install works of art from the MMFA’s permanent collection that celebrate what we eat, where we eat, and how we acquire the food that is central to it all. As civilizations evolved from rural and agrarian-based societies to urban and industrial ones, the practices of obtaining food also changed. Most citizens of Western societies no longer grew the majority of what they ate, and they no longer hunted for meat. Restaurants, cafes, and food shops filled the needs of city and town dwellers alike.
In this exhibition the subjects reflect the importance of food and dining as a ritual in societies of all types and times—from Rembrandt Van Rijn’s (Dutch, 1606–1669) seventeenth-century images of food and dining, to Red Grooms’ (American, born 1937) delightfully modern, three-dimensional image of a New York deli.