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‘Feast for the Eyes’ a tasty show at Nassau County Museum

Claes Oldenburg's

Claes Oldenburg's "Flying Pizza," a 1964 lithograph, is in the show at the Nassau County Museum of Art. Credit: Heckscher Museum of Art

‘Feast for the Eyes’

WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays through Nov. 6 at Nassau County Museum of Art, 1 Museum Dr., Roslyn Harbor.

INFO 516-484-9337,

ADMISSION $10 ($4 students and ages 4-12); $2 weekend parking

Never go to the supermarket on an empty stomach. And the same advice may apply to the sumptuous “Feast for the Eyes” exhibit at the Nassau County Museum of Art. If you haven’t already had lunch, stop by the museum cafe for a bite before you take in the lush visual treats arrayed throughout eight galleries and two hallways upstairs and down.

Franklin Hill Perrell, who curated “Feast,” celebrated its opening reception party by donning a pair of brightly hued pop art socks he bought from the museum shop. They drew admiring remarks from reception guests as he sat cross-legged on a bench in the lobby while being interviewed.

“I wanted to have a bit of fun to fit the spirit of the show,” Perrell said of his hosiery. “We have some food for thought in one gallery and examples of traditional still-life paintings of food in another. But mostly the show is great fun and great art. Beach food. Party food. Picnics. Pizza. Ice cream and pastries. What’s not to like?”


Some of the choices are obvious. No exhibition of food art would be complete, we suppose, without one of the million or so (well, thousands) Andy Warhol Campbell’s Soup cans, here displayed with a box of Campbell’s onion soup mix. Add hot water and stir.

Still lifes range from painterly realism, such as the late Water Mill artist Jane Freilicher’s “Lace Tablecloth,” her friend and neighbor Jane Wilson’s “Seven Green Apples” and St. James painter Christian White’s “Still Life With Leek and Papaya” to Bruce Lieberman’s intensely bright and super-real “Bud, Crayfish and Angel Head,” painted at his Water Mill studio.

One upstairs gallery is devoted exclusively to Long Island artists. But their work is scattered throughout the show, depending on the theme of each room. Lieberman’s paintings are in the Party Food gallery, along with Philip Pearlstein’s bucolic “Family Picnic” and Peter Anton’s sculpted “Pizza,” a slice measuring seven feet long, and his mixed media “Sushi,” raw fish Jules Verne might have encountered writing “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

A stack of coffee cups accent “Artists Studio,” where the late Roy Lichtensein painted the signature dot-patterned piece in Southampton. Westbury artist Richard Gachot, who creates found-object sculptures and constructions, imagines a world in which the food chain is turned upside down in “Chickens Lament” in which a hen takes her revenge on Colonel Sanders. It stands next to Dana Sherwood’s “Crossing the Wild Line,” a meat wagon installation that serves as centerpiece to her conceptual project that includes film clips of wild animals’ reaction to human-style food left for them to discover — a fox’s first taste of apple pie, for instance.


Among the few 19th century pieces are some Toulouse-Lautrec posters. Al Hirschfeld celebrity drawings — my favorite is “Comedians at Lunch” (W.C. Fields, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Groucho Marx) — line one side of the curved hallway leading to the Party Food gallery. Photographs include Berenice Abbott’s “Automat” and Cindy Sherman’s untitled shot of herself, as usual, this time as a harried mom in the kitchen. But no woman could be as harried as “Nadya Suleman (Octomom) Feeding Her Children” in Gillian Laub’s photo of Suleman feeding her eight babies. Meanwhile, you’d swear Ralph Goings’ “Amsterdam Diner” is a photograph. But it was painted in oil with tiny brushes to get the hyper-real effect.

Whimsy is captured in bits and pieces throughout “Feast,” none more so than Claes Oldenburg’s collaboration with his then-wife, Coosje van Bruggen. Their “Gazebo” depicts a man lounging in the shade of a potato chip supported by pretzels. In Larry Rivers’ three-dimensional “Jell-O,” Dad feeds his daughter the colorful dessert. Then there’s Judith Leiber’s bejeweled clutch purses, one shaped like a bunch of grapes, another like an eggplant — six minaudieres in all.

Other pieces look good enough to eat. That’s why we warned to you to dine before you see the show. Gina Beavers’ “Yummm,” an acrylic-on-canvas burger, appears juicy enough to be a six-napkin heart attack on a bun. What a way to go.


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