Dishing Up the Thyssen

Discover the collection interpreted by great chefs. An exhibition inspired in the book published by the Museum with a selection of its content.

Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Museo Nacional Thyssen - Bornemisza

Spot of "Dishing Up the Thyssen" project (2018)Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Dishing Up the ThyssenMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Dishing Up the Thyssen

25 chefs visited the Museum. Each chose one work and created a recipe based on that painting. This exhibition is a selection of the result which was published in a book with the same title.

Paintings are a permanent expression of who we are, just like gastronomy. It is a huge pleasure for the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum to be able to play a part in both of these art forms coming together, in The Thyssen on the Plate, to offer yet another way of enjoying our culture. My sincerest thanks to Google and the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy for their invitation to join this wonderful initiative.

Evelio Acevedo, Director of the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum.

Gastronomy is both art and culture. Painting is one of the fine arts. The harmony between these two forms of cultural expression brings extraordinary esthetic value to this exhibition, put together in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Gastronomy and the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum.

Rafael Ansón, President of the Royal Academy of Gastronomy.

Seated Woman (1917) by Juan GrisMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Juan Gris x Ferran Adrià

Deconstruction—both a creative method and a style of El Bulli's work—emerged in 1994. It was initially called Decomposition, since it involves breaking down an edible creation—such as a snack, a meal, or a cocktail—and altering its texture and structure, while still preserving the original taste. For this reason, it could be compared to Cubism.

Spiced Chicken (2020) by Ferran AdriàMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Having started with a savory curry ice cream, they looked for dish to match it: chicken curry. Each of the ingredients or elements (in this case chicken, apple, curry, coconut, garlic, and onion) underwent a different process, radically changing their texture and appearance. There was an implicit humor in the exchange with each diner. The question was always: "Would you prefer thigh or breast?" It was a dialogue between reconstruction and deconstruction.

A creek in the woods (1865) by Asher B. DurandMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Asher B. Durand × Víctor Arguinzoniz

My idea for this dish was inspired by 19th-century American painting and its powerful evocation of nature. The cuisine I try to create has a very strong bond with the natural world: the forests, the smell of the mountains, the rain, etc. It’s all about bringing the flavours of nature straight to the plate, freshness with a capital F, with a minimum of human interference. On my days off I go hiking in the hills, losing myself in the silence, aromas and atmosphere. I don’t encounter another living soul for hours and hours; it’s my moment of freedom and inner peace.

Scrambled farmhouse eggs with wild mushrooms (2018) by Víctor ArguinzonizMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Asher B. Durand wanted to give his painting a
moral meaning, and for me food also has a message of morality and respect for the environment. We should be thankful for what we eat, and respect the cycles of life and nature. This is a simple dish, dappled with light.

Composition in Colours / Composition No. I with Red and Blue (1931) by Piet MondrianMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Piet Mondrian × Juan Mari & Elena Arzak

Texture is associated with touch, and playing with it can produce powerful sensations. In this case, the only possible contrast to the gelatinous texture of the oyster is crunchiness. We wanted to emphasise flavour by pairing it with an acidic square biscuit for a satisfyingly crunchy bite. The sharp edges complement and oppose the soft shape of the mollusc.

Oyster Mondrian (2018) by Juan Mari y Elena ArzakMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

To emphasise colour, we could think of no better inspiration than Piet Mondrian, an artist whose work was defined by colour. But while he limited colour to the spaces he delimited with black lines, we decided to create a visual overflow, letting colour escape the boundaries of borders and grids. The grey and white of the oyster versus the bright palette of his paintings. Mondrian’s lines have always given us a sense of peace and order, although our tribute to his work shakes things up a bit. A seasonal dish inspired by an artist for all seasons.

Landscape with the Palace at Caserta and Vesuvius (1793) by Jacob Philipp HackertMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Jacob Philipp Hackert × Martín Berasategui

Basque cuisine is all about product. Since time immemorial, our mothers and grandmothers have scoured the hills, orchards and Cantabrian Sea for inspiration to supply our tables. In the Basque Country, we are fortunate to have a wide variety of local products of superb quality. The moment I saw Jacob Philipp Hackert’s painting "Landscape with the Palace at Caserta and Vesuvius", I felt I had been transported to the hills of the Basque Country, with grazing sheep and the taste of our lamb, and I knew that this was the dish I would choose.

Suckling lamb chop with Parmesan serum, fritter and asparagus (2018) by Martín BerasateguiMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

This "Suckling lamb chop with Parmesan serum, fritter and asparagus" is a tribute to those hills, its shepherds and good old-fashioned flavours. When tasting this dish, I recommend taking a cut of lamb with its juice, a bit of Parmesan serum and a little piece of the citrus asparagus: the combination is heavenly.

The Virgin of the dry Tree (1465) by Petrus ChristusMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Petrus Christus × Andrea Dopico

"The Virgin of the Dry Tree" captivated me at first sight with its sensation of texture; I can almost hear the sound of the dry branches cracking, like chocolate brittle, and the interplay of light and shadow reminds me of the gleam of custard, creamy with hidden depths of flavours. 

Dry tree (2018) by Andrea DopicoMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

The symmetry made me want to focus on depicting that dry tree, striving to replicate the dark areas in the painting. Gold also makes an appearance in this dish, creating similar glimmers of light. Like the painting,this dessert attempts to capture the contrast of smoothness and roughness, sweetness and strength.

The baker (1909) by Mijail LarionovMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Mikhail Larionov × Diego Guerrero

I was inspired by the avant-garde painter’s investigation into local folk art and culture. He was one of the first to scorn the “correct” way of representing the world and incorporate distorted figures and bright colours. He was also interested in depicting different trades and professions, as he did in The Baker. 

Day-old bread koji (2018) by Diego GuerreroMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

In cooking we find a similar need to combine or understand novelty in the light of tradition, accepting that one cannot exist without the other. We therefore chose an ancient culinary method like koji and applied it not to traditional rice but to another carbohydrate: day-old flaxseed bread.

Omega 5 (Traps) (1927) by Paul KleeMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Paul Klee × Ángel León

I found the work "Omega 5 (Traps)" very inspiring, because of both the objects depicted in it and the title itself. Inmy obsession with harvesting the sea’s bounty and usingresources no one else wants, some years ago I decided to turn discarded fish into marine sausages. 

Mullet sausage (2018) by Ángel LeónMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

These “cold cuts” look exactly like meat products, but they’re actuallymade of fish. They don’t have the cholesterol and fatof pork, which I’ve replaced in this case with natural fishfat—Omega 3, the first and most obvious connection to the painting. The dish is also related to the idea of traps, because our sausages “trap” you into thinking they’remeat products when they really aren’t.

Greenwood lake (1870) by Jasper CropseyMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Jasper Francis Cropsey x Paco Morales

I chose "Greenwood Lake" because it’s a painting whose colors completely capture the essence of autumn. And, of course, there are two culinary elements that immediately come to mind when we think of autumn: wild mushrooms and feathered game. 

Sautéed wild mushrooms, acidulated game-bird stock and minty snails (2018) by Paco MoralesMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Although certain varieties do grow at other times of year, autumn is prime mushroom season due to the weather conditions, humidity and mild temperatures. This was my inspiration for creating a typical autumn dish.

Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni (1489 - 1490) by Domenico GhirlandaioMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Domenico Ghirlandaio × Toño Pérez

I chose the Ghirlandaio work because it’s one of my favourites from the Renaissance, which also happens to be one of the most important periods in art history. It is an incredibly beautiful piece that, to me, conveys peace, serenity and tenderness, especially knowing Giovanna’s story. When I was asked to choose a painting, I knew right away which it would be, and the choice of recipe was also clear as soon as I remembered prickly pear soup. 

Prickly pear soup, berries and coconut ice cream (2018) by Toño PérezMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

This soup has the same wonderful gold colour as the sitter’s cape; the red berries accompanying it echo the colours of her dress; and Giovanna’s pale face and throat remind me of the coconut ice cream served with this dish.

Woman with a Parasol in a Garden (1875) by Pierre-Auguste RenoirMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Pierre Auguste Renoir x Joan Roca

Pierre-Auguste Renoir's work Woman with a Parasol in a Garden has a strong link to the dish Spring Pickles with a Walnut Romesco, which reflects a colorful, wild-natured palette. It is a demonstration of our work in recognizing the plantlife of the local landscape, as part of our project called Living Earth.

Spring Pickles with a Walnut Romesco (2020) by Joan RocaMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Fresh sprouts, flowers, stems, leaves, roots preserved through a variety of techniques, pickled vegetables, fermented foods... These items and techniques all recover the ancestral wisdom from different cultures -prolonging their use throughout time, playing with the seasons, just as nature does- even challenging them to reveal beauty and touches of flavor in parasol-shaped harmony.

Credits: Story

© of the publication: Fundación Colección
Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2018
© of the texts: their authors
© of the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza
photographs: Hélène Desplechin, Humberto
Durán and José Loren
© of the food photographs: Eduardo Nave
© El Celler de Can Roca

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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