In untitled (Vanitas), 2007, a still-life photograph by Oto Gillen, the sumptuous, candle-lit table setting echoes that of a canvas by Abraham van Beyeren. The scene depicts glossy tomatoes and peppers paired with cheese, garlic, and cured meat. But rather than a lobster, fish, or decadent cut of meat for the main course, Gillen’s still life features a gooey, melty, pepperoni pizza.
This photograph is one of more than 25 artworks featured in “PIZZA TIME!,” the first exhibition to be presented at Marlborough Gallery’s new Broome Street space on the Lower East Side. Opening September 8, the show is curated by Marlborough associate director Vera Neykov and will include pizza-inspired works by such artists as Willem de Kooning, John Baldessari, Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe, and Darren Bader.
Many artists here depict pizza at its most literal—round, cheesy, and appetizing. In Catharine Ahearn’s mixed media Untitled (pizza 3), for example, a partially open cardboard pizza box reveals a full, circular pizza pie, topped with mushrooms and black olives. The most faithful representation comes from John Riepenhoff. His pizza-on-pizza creation titled Physical Pizza Networking Theory (2013) features one large pie covered with 20 mini pizzas, each dressed with various toppings.
In several of these works, pizza functions as more than just a food. Michelle Devereux’s cosmic Pizza Dude #6, for instance, depicts a bearded man in shorts and a tank top reclining on a larger-than-life pizza slice. The pizza serves as a mode of transportation, hovering above the ground like a flying saucer. And the triangular shape of a slice of pizza is the impetus for Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe’s piñata-like “Pizza Dog” series. In these papier-mâché constructions, hanging pieces of yellow pizza each bear the face of a 3-eyed, floppy-eared pup sticking its tongue out.
A pizza-themed exhibition seemed fitting for the opening of the gallery’s new downtown space, Neykov says: “Sharing a pizza is a metaphor for community and getting together.”
Click through the slideshow below for more pizza art: