Moulding Food Faces: Influenced by Arcimboldo Guiseppe


Arcimboldo Giuseppe was an Italian painter best known for creating imaginative portrait heads made entirely of such objects as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, and books. His most recognised work today is called “Vertumnus”. After encountering the work of Arcimboldo Giuseppe, I instantly had an idea of how to relate his influence to my project work. Making moulding food faces was something I was keen to experiment with to add a new angle to my project. I think his pieces are incredibly clever and well thought out. Also, they are very contemporary considering they were made so long ago. I imagine at the time he was making these people wouldn’t really have appreciated his genius but today his work is distinct and recognisable to many. Giuseppe manages to create a very balance composition within his work and like I have, choses appropriate objects to represent certain facial features. I am highly inspired by his work and it encourages me to create things that people could appreciate years down the line.

vertumnus-emperor-rudolph-ii(1) GIUSEPPE-ARCIMBOLDO-SUMMER-2 Giuseppe_Arcimboldo_-_Fruit_Basket

 I think it is important to play with lots of different ideas with in a project because after all it is an investigation. I started by drawing a face made up of moulding food. It was relatively easy to choose which food would make which feature. For example a decaying orange was the obvious choice for a cheek here. In this sketch, I have tried to incorporate as many rotting foods as I can. I decided where to place them by considering their shape and colour. Giuseppe would definitely have made conscious decisions when creating his works.


I feel that creating moulding food faces is quite an innovative way of relating the decay of food to the decay of life. To me, the piece below symbolises how the person’s life may be decaying or crumbling around them. I used a variety of materials to produce this artwork including  acrylic paint, sugar, salt and cotton wool. I was worried that the facial features may get lost in the similar colour palette or it would end up just looking like a pile of moulding food, but actually I think it is relatively easy to see that this is a painting of a face. I think the result is fairly successful and is a great addition to my project work.



Overall,  I am pleased with the way that this moulding face has turned out. It captures the essence of decay accurately and almost changes the viewers perception of decay. This no longer looks like a horrible painting of mould, it is far more interesting and thought-provoking than that. Since creating this piece I have experimented with creating a few more using different materials like pens and palette knifes. The results are shown below.



I think the 1st of these two pieces is quite successful. I used a palette knife to highlight the foods and incorporated cotton wool into it to give the decay a more realistic look. However, I don’t think the 2nd piece with the pen work look mouldy or decaying enough.  I enjoyed creating these pieces and it was definitely beneficial to experiment with different ideas and techniques but for now I think I will move on from Giuseppe’s influence. There are many ways I could progress from this however. I could create landscapes made up of mouldy food or make a sculpture. I feel as if I am progressing as an artist and Giuseppe’s artworks are just some of many that have helped me do so.


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