Skip to main content

Distributed for Reaktion Books

A Feast for the Eyes

Edible Art from Apple to Zucchini

Savor a taste of the edible alphabet, from A to Z.

Throughout history, visual and performance artists of all stripes and degrees of renown have rendered their visions within the whimsical medium of food. But however ubiquitous the practice may be, in Carolyn Tillie’s deeply satisfying and gloriously illustrated A Feast for the Eyes, we embark on a delicious adventure that redefines the world of art. Explore the surprising artistry of apple-head dolls, butter sculptures, coffee paintings, and a grand cathedral carved entirely from salt. Learn about the ancient role of food creations in ritual and global folk art. Experience the modern magnificence of electrified vegetable sculptures and ethereal molecular gastronomy. Discover why Salvador Dalí had an obsession with lobsters, and why there is a giant palace in the American Midwest made entirely of corn.

For food lovers and art aficionados alike, A Feast for the Eyes serves up an aesthetic banquet that will delight the senses—and nourish mind, body, and soul.

144 pages | 100 color plates | 6 1/4 x 8 3/4 | © 2019

Art: Art--General Studies

Food and Gastronomy

Reaktion Books image

View all books from Reaktion Books


"Any survey of food as art has to feature Giuseppe Arcimboldo, the sixteenth-century Italian painter whose portraits are montages of food. There is a take-off on one, by the photographer Klaus Enrique, on the cover of this lovely volume, A Feast for the Eyes. The book is an alphabetical compendium, with entries showing and explaining fanciful Easter eggs, mosaics made from seeds and rice, carved radishes, butter sculptures, insanely elaborate lattes, and intricate Japanese confections. The introduction gives historical background from 60,000-year-old engraved ostrich shells to Instagram."

Florence Fabricant | New York Times

"Food in art is a rich and appetizing subject. The tables of seventeenth-century cardinals, for example, were decorated with miniature sculptures of martyred saints in sugar. All such works, unfortunately, were consumed long ago, like baroque boiled sweets. Feast for the Eyes is more an amuse-gueule than a full study. Alphabetically arranged, it contains some genuine art—such as the American artist Ed Ruscha’s Chocolate Room—but also a good deal of restaurant kitsch, including a version of Van Gogh’s Starry Night fashioned from colored pasta. Perhaps it tastes better than it looks."


"When artists use food as a medium the results are a long way from church hall fetes and Women’s Institute cookery classes. When top chefs turn the presentation of food into a creative tour-de-force of design, the results can be extraordinary. Tillie has made an A-Z of weird and wonderful creations sourced from across the world. . . . An unexpected delight."

State Magazine

"Maurizio Cattelan’s now-infamous banana is hardly the only work of art made from literal foodstuffs. In artist Tillie’s gorgeously illustrated A Feast for the Eyes, she considers the role of art in the full span of art history, from prehistoric paintings done on the inside of eggshells, to elaborately crafted Renaissance banquets with extravagant sugar centerpieces. But the heart of this little volume—or should I say the gut?—is the incredible alphabetical rundown of artworks made from all types of edible ingredients, such as Vik Muniz’s caviar Frankenstein (2004) and Blake Little’s viral photographs of models dripping in honey.”

ArtNet News

"A Feast for the Eyes is shipping to stores right now and we’re salivating already. We caught a glimpse of the works of art it contains, sculpted and fashioned from chocolate, vegetables, and other foodstuffs. From giant designs carved into crop lands to a collection of fruit arranged into a startlingly realistic human head, this book challenges readers to see and appreciate food differently."

WFAEats, Charlotte's NPR News Source

"This superb book presents a delicious edible alphabet from A to Z. Every page reveals a fresh surprise, and confirms the idea that food is also art. It is uniquely human to transform avocados, salt, fruit, and marzipan into a visual delight that is clever, witty, weird, and wonderful. The artistry and outstanding attention to detail is quite remarkable. . . . A Feast For The Eyes is highly recommended, and you have to marvel at the skill and imagination required to reshape and stain mass produced semolina noodles into a fabulous version of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night."

OxVeg News

"The only real downfall to Tillie’s alphabet book is that it ends much too soon. Once readers get to 'Z is for Zucchini,' see the artwork (intricately carved zucchini), and read the story of Swiss chef-turned-vegetable-carver Andy Branca-Mass whose masterpieces are meant to surprise the guests in the retirement home kitchen where he works, they will want to go back to A and start all over again. In sum, Tillie’s work offers a refreshing, offline look at food photography for those fatigued by the rapid speed of the digital age."

Food, Culture & Society

“The illustrations are a careful selection of mainly contemporary materials, from a witty recreation of Arcimboldo’s Vertumnus to astonishing crop art in the rice fields of Japan, corn palaces in South Dakota, and tea, chocolate, and coffee in strange manipulations, all brought together for the first time to give a delightful overview of edible art, beautifully designed and printed.”

Gillian Riley, food historian

“This ravishingly luscious book proves once and for all, if it ever were in doubt, that food is art. An abecedarium of comestible confections and culinary marvels from around the world that is at once arrestingly beautiful and usually edible.”

Ken Albala, University of the Pacific

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press