|Josef Albers: A Culinary Approach
Who would have imagined that the experience of the different palettes--the one with which one tastes
food, and the one with which one makes paintings--had a great deal, of a very serious nature, in common?
Such was the realization of our collaboration with the extraordinary chef
As she had done initially at the time of Josef's show at the Centre Pompidou, Eve took this idea to
new peaks when Albers and Moholy-Nagy: From the Bauhaus to the New World was at Tate Modern in 2006.
For her dinner at Tate Modern, as for her previous feast done in collaboration with our Foundation,
Eve totally immersed herself in Josef Albers's work. Having truly grasped his ability to make a color
look one way in one setting and entirely different when adjacent to another hue, she took that experience
into the culinary realm. Understanding the richness Josef extracted from his careful juxtapositions of
texture -- and recognizing that in Albers's art there is an element of timing, that one progresses
through space in unexpected and sometimes contradictory ways--Eve applied all of these concepts to
food that was as delectable as Albers's art. With a keen aesthetic sense, a flair for color, and
consistent grace, she opened our taste buds to new sensations, and to an unprecedented understanding
of what the experience of eating could be.
Just as a mars yellow is its truest, unimpeded self in an Albers painting, asparagus assumed its purest,
most essential flavor in Eve's hands. At the same time, it acquired different voices, depending on
whether it was raw and cut in a divinely light ribbon, inside a light tempura, used for a flavorful
bavaroise, or rendered crunchy in its miniature form. The olive and cauliflower derivatives that
accompanied it met the taste buds either before or after that delicate asparagus, depending on Eve's
particular orchestration. With asparagus, olive and cauliflower, the emphasis was on the quality of
permutation, the contrast of cooking methods, and temperature extremes.
In the next course, tuna and apple played off of one another with an emphasis on the perception
of texture in variations not unlike what one can relish in Albers's sublime Homage to the Square
paintings that take a limited vocabulary into the realm of the infinite. In combinations of
beetroot and milks, we understood to a new degree what cheese really is, as well as the importance
of technique, measuring, and the choice of ingredients, just as in Albers's art one sees in new
ways the nuances of white. The possibilities of pumpernickel (Albers's bread of choice) and passion
fruit and chocolate became as multifarious as oranges and greens in Albers's abstractions, and as
variable as the lines of his geometric drawing: reaching into space, moving in multiple directions
at the same time, providing a complex, yet always salubrious, experience.
As we ate these delicacies, totally new possibilities opened up with utmost clarity. At the same time,
the experience was as hedonistic and satisfying in a way that the exposure to beauty and art is meant to be.
|All photos by Isabelle Rozenbaum
-Nicholas Fox Weber
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