Jackson Pollock Rice Krispies treat in situ (food styling by Kim Morphew, prop styling by Lydia Brun, photography by Maja Smend)(all images courtesy the Art Fund and used with permission)

We all enjoy contemplating and admiring great works of art, but what about making and eating them? A new fundraising initiative from the UK-based nonprofit Art Fund is encouraging people to make art-inspired food creations, and for those who need a guiding hand, the fund offers recipes for a Damien Hirst skull cake, a Jackson Pollock Rice Krispies treat, Wedgewood shortbread, and more.

The project, Edible Masterpieces, seems like a direct descendent of the Blue Bottle Coffee spot at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which, until the museum closed for renovations last summer, was serving up delicious modern art desserts (and non-desserts, like the Jasper Johns grilled cheese I ate when I visited). In fact, Edible Masterpieces includes its own version of Mondrian cake, the pastry for which the SFMOMA cafe is widely known  (who wore it better?), but Madeline Adeane, press relations manager at the Art Fund, explained to Hyperallergic that the organization’s version came about independently, during an in-office recipe trial event. “It’s such an iconic piece that lends itself, evidently, to baking,” she said.

Mondrian-inspired battenberg, in situ

Mondrian-inspired battenberg, in situ (food styling by Kim Morphew, prop styling by Lydia Brun, photography by Maja Smend)

Edible Masterpieces is decidedly cheekier and more playful with its creations than Blue Bottle, reminding me somewhat of the arty food creations for sale at last year’s Frieze New York art fair (Mapplethorpe bananas, anyone?). The Vincent van Gogh Ploughman’s (for the uninitiated) is a personal favorite, as is the Pollock Rice Krispies treat, which calls for “splash[ing] the four colours [of icing] over the cake until you are satisfied that you have done Pollock justice, or maybe even out-done him.” And for those overwhelmed by the difficulty level of the Damien Hirst skull cake, you can try the far simpler Rachel Whiteread installation, which consists only of sugar cubes. As Adeane said, “no recipe needed, just arrange as you see fit.”

Rachel Whiteread sugar-cube installation

Rachel Whiteread sugar-cube installation (food styling by Kim Morphew, prop styling by Lydia Brun, photography by Maja Smend)

Edible Masterpieces is, ultimately, meant to be a fundraiser: on May 9, after making your art creations, you can sell them, or charge your friends to eat or take pictures (#ediblemasterpieces). It’ll be tough to watch your hard work disappear so quickly, but the best edible victories are fleeting. And the money you donate to the Art Fund will in turn be donated to UK museums and galleries, where you can go to find inspiration for the next batch of arty food.

Van Gogh–inspired Ploughman's

van Gogh–inspired Ploughman’s (food styling by Kim Morphew, prop styling by Lydia Brun, photography by Maja Smend)

Recipe for van Gogh–inspired Ploughman’s, borrowed from the Art Fund:

You will need

Sliced brown bread
The crust of a loaf for the ornate detail
Pickled onions

van Gogh
Curly lettuce
Sliced ham
Branston Pickle
Peppercorns for eyes
Brie for the bandage and shirt
Gherkin slice for the button
Red Leicester for his shirt


There’s no cooking involved with this, so it’s time to get creative! We recreated van Gogh’s “Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear,” but you could make a myriad of masterpieces using these ingredients.

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art and politics but has also been known to write at length about cats. She won the 2014 Best...