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A Recipe for Art

Recipe – an instruction on how to make a particular dish. But it can be so much more than that! Recipe-writing is, without doubt, an art. In the spirit of the latter approach, an assistant registrar at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, Deborah Barsel, came up with a side project, which’s history… well, went down in history.

Book cover | @www.aperture.org

In 1977, Barsel published a submission call in the museum’s magazine and wrote direct letters asking for photographers’ favorite recipes and food-related photos. Couple of years passed and among 120 submissions were some impressive ones: Robert Adams, Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon, Imogen Cunningham, William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Ed Ruscha, among others. But Barsel never got to finalize her cookbook project, as she left the museum to enroll in graduate school. Thankfully, it was discovered 35 years later by Lisa Hostetler, a curator at the museum, who decided to finish what Barsel started. She published the book under the title ‘Photographer’s Cookbook’ –  the name that the found box was signed with. 

Ralph Steiner, Ham and Eggs, advertisement for the Delineator, with the recipe for Steiner’s Zwei Vier Minuten Eier | George Eastman Museum

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