Stunning photos show how American food consumption has changed in the past 100 years

Screen Shot 2017 06 20 at 2.16.10 PMFeast for the Eyes (Aperture, 2017)Cover of Feast for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Photography.

Before the days of blogs and entire Instagram accounts dedicated to the wonderful world of food — documenting food was left to professional photographers, who, through careful decision making and curating captured the culinary delights for cookbooks, advertisments, and art.

Just as food consumption has changed over the years, so has the way societies plate, present, and document food.

In the new book, Feast for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Photography, author Susan Bright explores chronologically the way food has been photographed since the 19th century with over 200 photographs. Ahead, 15 stunning images from the book that show how drastically food photography has shifted since then.

In the book, Bright acknowledges the importance that food has on culture. 'Food can signify a lifestyle or a nation, hope or despair, hunger or excess' she writes. Here, an elaborate still life of various native fruit taken in Sri Lanka in 1860 was sold as a souvenir to naval, military, bureaucratic, and merchant visitors.

Courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum, London
William Louis Henry Skeen, Still Life of Exotic Fruits and Lizard from Ceylon, Colombo, Sri Lanka, ca. 1880; from Feast for the Eyes (Aperture, 2017)

This postcard, which is manipulated to depict over-sized eggs and potatoes in a car, play on the idea of American abundance. 'Food is the perfect way to suggest wealth and plenty, and cards such as these did their part to promote the myth of a rural American utopia,' writes Bright.

Courtesy George Eastman Museum, gift of 3m Foundation, ex-collection of Louis Walton Sipley
William H. Martin, The Modern Farmer, 1909; from Feast for the Eyes (Aperture, 2017)

Colour photographs began appearing in the early 1900s, and photographer Wladimir Schohin explored the complex process of autochrome, which used potato starch to help create the colour.

Courtesy Amatörfotografklubben i Helsingfors rf, Finland
Wladimir Schohin, Stilleben, 1910; from Feast for the Eyes (Aperture, 2017)

Near the end of the Great Depression photographer Russell Lee was working for the FSA, documenting poverty in communities that didn't have an abundance of food, such as Pie Town, New Mexico.

Courtesy The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Russell Lee, Serving Pinto Beans at the Pie Town, New Mexico Fair barbecue, 1940; from Feast for the Eyes (Aperture, 2017)

As colour photography became more popular, and a technically easier to create, photographers such as Nickolas Muray helped set the tone for 1940s food photography.

© Nickolas Muray Photo Archives, Courtesy George Eastman Museum, gift of Mrs. Nickolas Muray
Nickolas Muray, Lemonade and Fruit Salad, McCall's magazine, ca. 1943; from Feast for the Eyes (Aperture, 2017)

'...his food photographs are elaborate tableaux of staged props and food. They represent a land of plenty -- a bountiful and idealised America, freed from the food restrictions and hardships of the New Deal,' writes Bright.

© Nickolas Muray Photo Archives, Courtesy George Eastman Museum, gift of Mrs. Nickolas Muray
Nickolas Muray, Food Spread, Daffodils, McCall's magazine, ca. 1946; from Feast for the Eyes (Aperture, 2017)

Photographer Victor Keppler helped bring bold colours into food advertising, such as this photo which was used for a General Mills advertising campaign, promoting Apple Pyequick pie mix.

© Victor Keppler, Courtesy George Eastman Museum, gift of Victor Keppler
Victor Keppler, (General Mills advertising campaign -- Apple Pyequick), 1947; from Feast for the Eyes (Aperture, 2017)

While working as a professor of electrical engineering at MIT, Harold Edgerton experimented with a stroboscope, a bright flash of light, that helped cameras capture moments that the human eye couldn't.

© 2010 MIT, Courtesy MIT Museum
Harold Edgerton, Milk Drop Coronet, 1957; from Feast for the Eyes (Aperture, 2017)

Photographer Stephen Shore is known for his photos of American culture. This photo, of his breakfast at Trail's End Restaurant in Kanab, Utah in 1973 has been celebrated by various photography critics.

© Stephen Shore, Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York
Stephen Shore, Trails End Restaurant, Kanab, Utah, August 10, 1973; from Feast for the Eyes (Aperture, 2017)

Jo Ann Callis' more calculated approach, differs from Shores. ' Her treatment of the food is obsessive and tense, relying on saturated, cinematic lighting to create an unknown drama seemingly set in the 1950s or 1960s,' writes Bright.

© Jo Ann Callis, Courtesy Rose Gallery Santa Monica
Jo Ann Callis, Black Table Cloth, 1979; from Feast for the Eyes (Aperture, 2017)

British documentary photographer Martin Parr has documented every-day food, and its consumption for years. 'Parr concentrates on what is considered 'ordinary' food; this is not the stuff of banquets or weddings, but of church bake sales and butchers' slabs,' writes Bright.

© Martin Parr/Magnum Photos
Martin Parr, Untitled (Hot Dog Stand), 1983 -- 85; from Feast for the Eyes (Aperture, 2017)

In fine art, food can also represent overindulgence, such as in Tim Walker's 'Self-Portrait with Eighty Cakes.'

© Tim Walker
Tim Walker, Self-Portrait with Eighty Cakes, 2008; from Feast for the Eyes (Aperture, 2017)

Today, some artists such as Laura Letinsky are looking back at seventeenth-century Renaissance paintings for inspiration when documenting food.

Courtesy of Laura Letinsky, and Yancey Richard Gallery, NYC
Untitled #49, 2002, from the series Hardly More Than Ever; from Feast for the Eyes (Aperture, 2017)

Others are creating completely new concoctions -- such as Lorenzo Vitturi, who was inspired by the mix of cultures and foods found at his local market in the East End of London.

Courtesy of Lorenzo Vitturi
Lorenzo Vitturi, Red #1, 2013, from the series Dalston Anatomy; from Feast for the Eyes (Aperture, 2017)

Bright also looks at the current food photography landscape and the independent food magazines, such as Gather and Gourmand, that are pushing the limits of food photography.

Courtesy of Grant Cornett
Grant Cornett, Jello Disco Floor, 2016, for Gather Journal, food styling by Janine Iversen; from Feast for the Eyes (Aperture, 2017)

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