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ART WHAT THOU EAT: IMAGES OF FOOD IN AMERICA edited by Linda Weintraub (Moyer Bell Limited: $49.95).

February 03, 1991|Charles Perry

Here we have some 19th-Century still lifes and genre paintings involving food and quite a few 20th-Century items of more tenuous connection--Ashcan School, Regionalist, Pop and Post-Everything, mostly--Since this is the catalogue of an art exhibit, though, they're embedded in in a swamp of museum curator prose, full of the fastidious obtuseness that is a certain kind of art critic's bread and butter (let's think about that term "bread and butter"; let's drag the thought out for a paragraph or two). But is this book about food? Not much; it begins by claiming artists are the spokespersons of their era (which allows virtually anything to be included, a big help in filling up an exhibit), but it turns out the spokespersons of their eras have really been painting about ecology, feminism and class struggle, whether they thought so or not. Because basically, critics are the spokespersons of the spokespersons of their ages, and what they say goes, see?

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