'Pizza is God': Exhibition recognizes artistic value of the beloved dish


Pizza for purists

American artist Luc Fuller designed this pizza for the Venice 2015 "Pizza Pavilion," where 19 international artists were invited to design pizzas that local Venetian bakers dished up. This simple baked pizza dough with a single tomato is both elegant and an aesthetic feast for the eyes — but might fail to satisfy one's appetite.


Pizza art straight from the oven

The pizza makers had fun baking the artists' creations: even if some weren't as simple as the one-tomato version. Some pizzas were intended to be strictly geometrical — which isn't so easy to achieve with round ingredients. Created by Paul Barsch and Konstanze Schütze, among others, the "Pizza Pavilion" took place in conjunction with the Venice Biennale.


Pizza on the wall

In the Düsseldorf show, the 19 pizzas from Venice are experiencing a revival. They are baked fresh, and visitors may eat them. That is not the case, however, with the object shown here: a work by Paul Barsch titled "Pizza Voyeur" from 2014, which is a frozen pizza installed like a television on the wall.


Pizza sculptures from Italy

Italian artist Marco Bruzzone has come up with diverse creations related to his national dish. The centerpiece of his "Sending Out For You" piece from 2014, this sculpted pizza with eyes and mouth on a chair isn't made of dough but of ceramic, and is typical of the artist's abstract oeuvre. Bruzzone lives and works in Berlin.


Pizza on social media

Uffe Isolotto from Denmark focuses on internet phenomena and self-depiction in the age of social media. His work "Pixxa Splice" from 2013 addresses the disappearance of boundaries in images. You really have to look closely before you lose your appetite...


Fabric pizza

Claude Viallat's pizza pieces are much more abstract. The French artist from Nimes works with used fabrics, be they old clothes or other fabric scraps that originally served a different purpose. Her collage titled "1990/112" from 1990 in also on display in Düsseldorf.


In the pizza oven

If you want to feel like inside a pizza oven, the installation by the artist collective PCNC_BAY x BLUNT x SKENSVED is a perfect opportunity to try it. In their "Pizza Discourse Room," visitors can engage in interesting debates sitting on a fabric pizza. The dim red light creates the right mood.


The pizza god

This is how New Yorker Spencer Sweeney sees the "Pizza God" in an artwork from 2011. One thing's for sure: pizza is a cult object. First created in Naples, Italy, it became a dish munched on by teenagers in the United States during the 1950s. Italy, too, continues to hold the pizza tradition dear to its heart, with UNESCO adding the art of pizza-making to the World Cultural Heritage list in 2017.

A source of joy for some, junk food for others. The baked dough traditionally topped with tomato and cheese evokes emotions that international artists have translated into appetizing artworks.

Baking a pizza is not really that simple as it sounds, as any "pizzaiolo," or pizza-maker, will confirm. The dough must have the right consistency. The oven must have the right temperature. Indeed, the whole pizza-making process is regulated by a governmental authority in Italy.

Read more: Lawyer in Dortmund presses charges against unwanted pizzas

In December 2017, UNESCO recognized the timeless art of Neapolitan pizza makers as Intangible Cultural Heritage. According to the international cultural organization, "traditional knowledge that has been transmitted from generation to generation" has turned pizza-making and eating into a "social ritual."

But pizza has not only inspired global gourmands but also artists, as visitors can witness at the "Pizza is God" exhibition at Düsseldorf's NRW Forum. The gallery above previews some of the bite-sized artworks.  

"Pizza is God" runs until May 20, 2018.

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DW News | 08.12.2017

UNESCO adds Naples-style pizza to World Heritage list

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