Painter looks at American fast food in the Middle East landscape

Posted on Fri Apr 30 2010


It's been 48 years since Andy Warhol demonstrated that an ordinary American food brand could be worth thinking about other than when you're hungry. Now, Eric Robert Parnes is up to much the same thing, albeit with work that's a bit more provocative than a can of Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup.
  In his paintings, Parnes, a 31-year-old Iranian American artist, portrays brands like McDonald's, KFC and Starbucks open for business in Middle Eastern countries. Each of his canvases features a group of women in chadors, their backs turned, regarding the fast-food outlets with thoughts that are anyone's guess. Parnes—whose far-ranging work also includes gold-leafed artillery helmets and nudes equipped with gas masks—says his intent was not to be critical of American fast food's presence in Muslim countries but to "explore … the dynamics involving Western and Eastern cultures." And for better or worse, Western "culture" these days usually means fast food.
  "Aside from the American flag, people identify the United States via our products' visual logos," Parnes tells BrandFreak. "These brands have become visual representations that elicit an immediate response of recognition. It really doesn't even matter that Domino's or Starbucks is spelled out in another language. All we need is a logo to recognize the company."
  So, good news for all you fast-food marketers out there: Your logo works just as well in Riyadh as it does in Rochester.

—Posted by Robert Klara


'Last Supper' paintings over time reveal a lot about portion size

Posted on Tue Mar 23 2010


Turns out McDonald's wasn't the first to super-size meals. Artists have been doing it for a millennium in one of the most notable portraits in history. There's a report out today from the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca, N.Y., which examined 52 famous renderings of the The Last Supper, with surprising results about portion control—or lack thereof. The study found that between the years 1000 and 2000, the main-course size in the artists' work increased by 69 percent, plate size by 66 percent and loaves of bread by 23 percent. There could be a simple explanation, in that food became more plentiful and less expensive over time. Reflecting that in art would've made sense. But the results are being published in April's International Journal of Obesity, so obviously they're trying to tell us something about the sorry state of our waistlines and the role that heaping helpings of food plays in that. Still, I don't see any chips, soda or candy in that meal or any overweight apostles. Not to get too biblical, but maybe we could learn a lesson or two from the loaves and fishes. In moderation, of course.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Six artists whip up some crazy-ass Mountain Dew bottle designs

Posted on Fri Aug 28 2009


Angry monkeys. Crazy eyes. Enormous octopi. Exactly the sort of imagery you want next to your mouth when you drink a soda. In early September, Mountain Dew will launch its third Green Label Art series, which consists of collectible aluminum soda bottles featuring designs by six contemporary artists. Each graphic is vastly different from the others, both in style and theme. One of the artists, Stephen Bliss, drew a gigantic octopus seizing a ship from the pirate era (the one before 2009). The olive-green water in the drawing looks almost as filthy as the Hudson River, which doesn't exactly give the consumer a good impression of what she's drinking. Claw Money, the first female artist of the series, drew her signature three-clawed paw with arrows winding around the bottle. While they are certainly interesting, there's really no connection between any of the six designs and Mountain Dew. Maybe the artists should have tasted the soda before setting up their easels. UPDATE: A rep for the brand wants to clarify that each of the designs was directly inspired by Mountain Dew. For example, here's Stephen Bliss talking about his octopus bottle: "I imagined there to be a world inside every bottle of Mountain Dew—an adventure—a huge ocean of Dew with sea creatures. The scene is frozen, on the brink of chaos; the ship is about to be pulled under the ocean and the volcano will erupt. The birds are scattering in anticipation. There's a different adventure in every bottle." See, the connection is obvious!

—Posted by Elana Glowatz

Kellogg marks Pop-Tarts' 45th birthday with a pop-art celebration

Posted on Tue Aug 4 2009


Some Pop-Tarts were on display last Thursday in West Hollywood, and this time, it wasn't because a paparazzo popped a pic of a pop princess sans undergarments. In the tradition of Andy Warhol, pop artist Burton Morris has retooled the Kellogg's Pop-Tarts packaging—fitting, since the pastry got its punny name as a nod to the '60s art movement. To celebrate the 45th anniversary of Pop-Tarts' 1964 debut, Morris collaborated with Kellogg for a collection that will be at the Hamilton-Selway Fine Art gallery on Melrose through Aug. 21. Among the works are eye-popping Pop-Tarts-inspired paintings, pastry storage tins and a workstation encased in a fort of Pop-Tart boxes reimagined by Morris. Kellogg also commissioned the artist to create five special-edition boxes of its toaster pastries that will be in stores this fall. The brightly colored acrylic paintings on canvas, which go for between $8,500 and $12,500 a pop, resemble the comic-book style of Roy Lichtenstein, Warhol's contemporary. Maybe that's why Spider-Man creator Stan Lee is a fan. He popped in to say hi to Morris, who happens to share a birthday with the Pop-Tart: He debuted in '64, too.

—Posted by Becky Ebenkamp

Advertising is art on a handful of New Jersey highway billboards

Posted on Mon Jul 27 2009


All you budding artists out there, here's your big break. (No, it doesn't involve standing outside MOMA with a "Please exhibit me" sign.) Palisades, a New Jersey car-insurance company, is showcasing local artists' work on highway billboards. If you think this is a questionable route to fame, think again. While world-renowned art museums average 7,000 to 13,000 visitors a day, roadside boards can get up to 80,000 eyeballs daily. So far, response from artists has been overwhelming, with more than 450 submissions in one week, according to Palisades. Landscape scenery by Garden State artists Tom Daly and Gary Godbee (above) are on display now, and the public gets to submit and vote on the next series of images. We're pulling out our canvas and brushes for this one.

—Posted by Elaine Wong



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