Peanuts In Art

Nuts About Peanut Art

Just as a chef can use peanuts as a canvas to create different kinds of delicious dishes, many artists who express themselves in different mediums have incorporated the legume into their work. The following are examples of how peanuts have inspired some artists.

An Artistic Spread

In 2011, a patron of the Boijmans van Beuningen museum in Rotterdam made news around the world for stepping in the “Peanut-Butter Platform”—an art installation made of peanut butter spread on a 14-meter area of the floor. First created by Wim T. Schippers in 1962, this delicious sculpture is made up of about 2,000 jars of peanut butter that are emptied into a frame-like structure. The piece also has an interactive component to it, and museums that display the work allow patrons to record a video where they can ask questions and describe how the work affected them.

Childhood in Still Life

The peanut butter sandwich is an icon of American childhood. In fact, the average high school graduate has eaten 1,500 of them. The image of that classic lunch is part of photography series called “Kids Were Here” by 30 different artists chronicling the signs of raising children without showing them in the frame. A photograph of a half-eaten peanut butter sandwich laying on an paint-spattered dinner table is called “Untitled.” The possibilities of what adventures that nutritious meal powered are endless.

Creativity in a Nutshell

According to toymaker Steve Casino, when looking at the shell of a peanut one day, he saw an image of himself. As he explained to TODAY contributor Randee Dawn, “I have a shaved head and glasses, so I look like a peanut.” As a result, he became inspired and decided to paint his own likeness right on the peanut shell.

Happy with his peanut self-portrait, Casino decided to branch out to painting other people on peanut shells. First he tried his hand at a peanut caricature of the rock band the Ramones ©, which also included instruments made of peanut shells. When he accomplished that, he moved on to portraits of characters from the television show “Star Trek ™”, among others.

Since his first piece of peanut art, Casino has built a lucrative side business and commands between $300 and $1,000 per commissioned piece. And it’s no wonder: The peanut caricatures can be very intricate—including detailing such as hair made from embroidery floss—and can take about five to ten hours to complete.

In the Bag

When you hear “peanuts” in relation to popular culture, chances are you think of the comic strip and cartoons by Charles M. Schulz. But unlike Schulz’s work, the film “Peanuts” by Dan Colen actually does feature the tasty snack. In the movie, Colen travels to different locations around New York City armed with just the companionship of a bag of peanuts. The movie also has an accompanying book that was featured in an exhibition at the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in 2011.


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