The Eye

Here’s What Thanksgiving Dinner Would Look Like If Plated by Picasso, Pollock, and Other Famous Artists  

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Damien Hirst. “This was largely built out digitally, and makes reference to Hirst’s animals in formaldehyde tanks,” Rothstein says. “Personally, I view these works critically, and I hope people look, see a turkey in a tank, and ask themselves, ‘What is art?’ ”

Courtesy of Hannah Rothstein

What would a Thanksgiving meal look like if Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Jean‑Michel Basquiat, or Damien Hirst was plating dinner?

Last Thanksgiving, Berkeley, California–based Hannah Rothstein, currently artist in residence at Planet Labs, decided to imagine how 10 famous artists would plate Thanksgiving’s traditional meal of turkey, gravy, corn, green beans, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. Her series “Thanksgiving Special” was a whimsical homage to the art of plating.

This year, she’s added 10 new artists to the bunch with “Thanksgiving Special: Seconds.” Rothstein shared a selection from the series and emailed some brief comments on her design process. The rest can be viewed on her website.

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Salvador Dalí. “This piece was designed to mimic Dalí’s melting clocks,” Rothstein says. “I first plated and photographed, then digitally edited [the] photo to achieve the melting look.”

Courtesy of Hannah Rothstein

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Joan Miró. “For this work, I drew upon Miró’s ‘Melancholic Singer,’ but made a few simple tweaks to change the figure into a Thanksgiving-apropos turkey,” Rothstein says. “I kept the composition in mind, but made a few alterations to account for the more coarse medium of food. Lines were draw with a dowel dipped in gravy, and blocks were shaped and placed with the help of a knife point.”

Courtesy of Hannah Rothstein

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Keith Haring. “Referencing the simple, dynamic aesthetic of Haring, this plate recreates one of his figures,” Rothstein says. “I kept the background plain so as to keep the figure from being visually overwhelmed by the host of other textures each food item created.”


Courtesy of Hannah Rothstein

TGSS for Slate - Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat. “I chose to keep the background simple so as to keep the eye focused on the symbol for which Basquiat is best known: a crown,” Rothstein says.


Courtesy of Hannah Rothstein

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Jackson Pollock. “Here, I was inspired by Pollock’s general style instead of one specific work,” Rothstein says. “Like Pollock, I tried to keep composition in mind as I splattered and dribbled food across the plate with a turkey baster and dowel.”


Courtesy of Hannah Rothstein

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Pablo Picasso. “Picasso, in his Cubist period, broke down what he saw into different angles, and painted a cumulative whole containing said multiple viewpoints,” Rothstein says. “[With] this idea in mind, [I] fragmented the foundation of the Thanksgiving meal—the plate—so as to, like Picasso, deconstruct in order reconstruct.”


Courtesy of Hannah Rothstein

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René Magritte. “This was inspired by Magritte’s Treachery of Images,” Rothstein says. “I followed his concept of presenting an object while simultaneously negating its existence.”

Courtesy of Hannah Rothstein

TGS for Slate-Mondrian copy

Piet Mondrian. “Since squares and lines could be easily seen as simple geometry instead of a specific artist’s style, this work drew very [directly] upon Mondrian’s art,” Rothstein says. “I used a knife edge to create the square, and a dowel dipped in gravy to create the lines.”


Courtesy of Hannah Rothstein

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Vincent van Gogh. “In this plate, I aimed to mimic the thick, curled brushstrokes and wavy lines for which Van Gogh is known,” Rothstein says. “I sliced the cranberry and green beans quite thin so they’d curve easily, and used a dowel to swirl gravy and mashed potato together in the sky.”

Coutesy of Hannah Rothstein