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'PIZZA IS GOD', a Group show at NRW-Forum Düsseldorf

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John Bock, Abay hoch Bock hoch zwei ist gleich Wurzel aus Eierschale tangiert Kaugummikurve, 2015 / Courtesy the artist, Photo by Rainer Holz, Leihgabe: Slg. Wilhelm Otto Nachf
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John Bock, Abay hoch Bock hoch zwei ist gleich Wurzel aus Eierschale tangiert Kaugummikurve, 2015 / Courtesy the artist, Photo by Rainer Holz, Leihgabe: Slg. Wilhelm Otto Nachf
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Daniel van Straalen, Studio Life, 2015 / Courtesy the artist
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Jennifer Chan, Big Sausage Pizza I, 2012 / Courtesy the artist
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Jennifer Chan, Big Sausage Pizza II, 2012 / Courtesy the artist
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Paul Barsch, Pizza Voyeur (1,2,3), 2014 / Courtesy the artist
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Chris Bradley, Grease Face (Green Blue), 2017 / Grease Face (Presto Black Blade), 2017 / Courtesy the artist and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago
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Chris Bradley, Grease Face (Green Blue), 2017 / Courtesy the artist and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago
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Chris Bradley, Grease Face (Presto Black Blade), 2017 / Courtesy the artist and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago
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Reena Spaulings, Enigma 17, 2011 / Enigma 14, 2011 / Enigma 13, 2011 / Enigma 1, 2011 / Courtesy the Artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris
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Reena Spaulings, Enigma 1, 2011 / Courtesy the Artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris
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Reena Spaulings, Enigma 13, 2011 / Courtesy the Artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris
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Reena Spaulings, Enigma 14, 2011 / Courtesy the Artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris
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Reena Spaulings, Enigma 17, 2011 / Courtesy the Artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris
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Claude Viallat, 1990/112, 1990 / Courtesy Ceysson & Bénétière © Aurélien Mole
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Claude Viallat, 1990/112, 1990 / Courtesy Ceysson & Bénétière © Aurélien Mole
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Sebastian Schmieg, I will say whatever you want in front of a pizza, 2017 / Courtesy the artist
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Sebastian Schmieg, I will say whatever you want in front of a pizza, 2017 / Courtesy the artist
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Martin Kippenberger, Schlecht belegte Studentenpizza gepollockt (ganz), 1993 / (Execution: Johann Widauer, Innsbruck; Herausgeber: Printed Matter Inc., New York) © Estate of Martin Kippenberger, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne, Photo: Peter Hinschlaeger, Aachen, Leihgabe: Slg. Wilhelm Otto Nachf.
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Martin Kippenberger, Schlecht belegte Studentenpizza gepollockt (ganz), 1993 / (Execution: Johann Widauer, Innsbruck; Herausgeber: Printed Matter Inc., New York) © Estate of Martin Kippenberger, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne, Photo: Peter Hinschlaeger, Aachen, Leihgabe: Slg. Wilhelm Otto Nachf.
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Cory Arcangel x Arcangel Surfware, The Source Issue #2: Pizza Party (SRF-015), 2013 / Courtesy the artist and Arcangel Surfware
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Uffe Isolotto & Sixten Starck, Pixxa Splice, 2013 / Courtesy the artists
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Darren Bader, Pizza proposal Courtesy the Artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York
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Darren Bader, Pizza proposal Courtesy the Artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York
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John Baldessari, Clock/Pizza – turquoise, 2015 © 2015 John Baldessari, Maharam under license
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John Baldessari, Clock/Pizza – turquoise, 2015 © 2015 John Baldessari, Maharam under license
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Marco Bruzzone, Sending Out For You, 2014 / Courtesy Gillmeier Rech, Berlin and the Artist
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Marco Bruzzone, Mew-Neasures, 2014 Courtesy Gillmeier Rech, Berlin and the Artist
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Marco Bruzzone, Big Table 1, 2014 / Big Table 2, 2014 / Courtesy Gillmeier Rech, Berlin and the Artist, photo by Nick Ash
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Marco Bruzzone, Sending Out For You, 2014 / Courtesy Gillmeier Rech, Berlin and the Artist
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Marco Bruzzone, Mew-Neasures, 2014 / Courtesy Gillmeier Rech, Berlin and the Artist
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Marco Bruzzone, Mew-Neasures, 2014 / Courtesy Gillmeier Rech, Berlin and the Artist
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Jonas Lund, Paint Your Pizza, 2013 / Courtesy the artist
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Lars Bent Petersen, Unregistered work (bonus), 2006 / Courtesy the artist
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PIZZA PAVILION, menu poster, 2015 (original menu poster as shown in pizzeria Al Volo in Venice) courtesy Pizza Pavilion
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PIZZAG8 by PCNC_BAY x BLUNT x SKENSVED, 2017 / Courtesy the artists
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Jennifer Chan, Young Money, 2012 / Courtesy the artist
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Marco Bruzzone, Untitled #2 (Pizza-Warmer), 2016 / Courtesy Gillmeier Rech, Berlin and the Artist
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R. Crumb, Monica Delivers The Pizza / Newspaper clipping from Rolling Stone (US edition), November 12, 1998
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R. Crumb, Monica Delivers The Pizza / Newspaper clipping from Rolling Stone (US edition), November 12, 1998
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Jennifer Chan, Big Sausage Pizza I, 2012 / Courtesy the artist
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Simon M. Benedict, Andy Warhol eating a hamburger, Macaulay Culkin eating a slice of pizza, and Simon M. Benedict eating a bag of chips, 2015 / Courtesy the Artist
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Daniel van Straalen, Studio Life, 2015 / Courtesy the artist
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Torben Ribe, Untitled with pizza menus, 2011 / Courtesy the artist and Galerie Eric Hussenot
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Torben Ribe, Untitled with pizza menus, 2011 / Courtesy the artist and Galerie Eric Hussenot
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Katherine Bernhardt, Gucci Rush Pizza Rush, 2017 / Courtesy the artist and Gallery Xavier Hufkens, Brussels
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Spencer Sweeney, Pizza God, 2011 / Courtesy the artist and The Green Gallery, Photo by Jake Palmert
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Spencer Sweeney, Pizza God, 2011 / Courtesy the artist and The Green Gallery, Photo by Jake Palmert
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Tom Friedman, Untitled (Pizza), 2013 / private collection
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Tom Friedman, Untitled (Pizza), 2013 / private collection
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Thomas Judisch, Margherita Moments, 2017 / Courtesy Drawing Room Hamburg and the Artist
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Simon Dybbroe Møller, Delivery, 2002 (Vernissage Performance; From as many local pizzerias as possible, a large amount of pizza is to be delivered at the exact same time. The boxes and leftovers will be part of the exhibition) / Courtesy the artist

Everybody knows pizza. For over half a century, pizza has been the lowest common denominator and a catalyzer of new ways of socializing around food; it is one of the first fast foods made to be shared. Everyone has eaten and enjoyed it. Pizza has become a philosophical and social mode, rather than simply a culinary treat. So what is it doing in fine art, you may ask?

As subject, symbol, and metaphor, food has been a part of visual communication since the beginning of time. After all, when the painters at Lascaux drew those bison, they probably had dinner in mind. It has figured in images of the Holy Family, of lavish court banquets, in colorful pop images, and in installation art rooted in critical discourse.

In the sixties, Warhol made a name for himself with Pop Art images of food and food commercialism. These works made a strong statement about the late twentieth-century in much the same way that da Vinci’s Last Supper made a powerful statement contemporary to his time. The point of Warhol’s paintings is to make something very ordinary—something that most people consume on a regular basis—into something extraordinary.

In the case of pizza, its cultural impact became especially clear in the eighties as a piece of nostalgia that most people associated with younger days and instant coolness. Films mythologized it as the ‘cool guys food’, and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles enjoyed buying boxes of it to devour in between ass-kickings and leisure time. Bart Simpson, essentially the coolest fictional kid in the nineties, was loaded on junk food and immersed in skate culture. Pizza was included in that junk food mix. It became glorified by the punk scene and inseparable from the concept of friendship altogether. Loads of nineties shows and films featured groups of friends meeting at pizza places, or they regularly featured a bunch of friends eating pizza together.

Playing a central role in countless series and films from cartoons to porn, the mythology of pizza has been connected to the divine and universal as well as the profane and domestic. And through the past four decades, artists have appropriated, painted, moulded, reshaped, and paraphrased pizza, cementing its position as both muse and motif. Pizza has been depicted by aesthetes and muckrakers alike. In short, attitudes toward its representation in art are inextricable from religion, culture, morality, aesthetics, and much else. It has become a modern memento mori as well as a cultural cliché illustrated in paintings, sculptures, films, and performances many times and in various ways—most recently, its continuous relevance was cemented by Pizza Pavilion during the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015.

Pizza is God aims at showing the many ways in which the pizza has been used in the field of fine art, tapping into many of the above mentioned connotations. The exhibition brings together a wide range of works from internationally acclaimed artists along with works from younger, emerging artists in an equally fun and thought-provoking feast for the eyes and the mind.

— Marie Nipper

16.2.18 — 20.5.18

Cory Arcangel, John Baldessari, Darren Bader, Katherine Bernhardt, Martin Kippenberger, R. Crumb, Tom Friedman, John Bock, Reena Spaulings, Claude Viallat, Spencer, Sweeney, Chris Bradley, Paul Barsch, Simon M. Benedict, Lars Bent Petersen, Marco Bruzzone, Jennifer Chan, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Uffe Isolotto & Sixten Starck, Thomas Judisch, Jonas Lund, PIZZA PAVILION, PIZZAG8 by PCNC_BAY x BLUNT x SKENSVED, Torben Ribe, Sebastian Schmieg, Daniel van Straalen

Curated by Mikkel Carl, Paul Barsch, Konstanze Schütze and Marie Nipper

Artistic Director: Alain Bieber

Production: Nicola Funk

Exhibition Design: Paul Barsch and Mikkel Carl

Photo by Paul Barsch

NRW-Forum Düsseldorf

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