• PrintMag

Of Packages and Men

The master of making people portraits from fruits, vegetables, animals and even books, was the Milanese Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593). (Portrait with Vegetables – The Greengrocer, above.) He inspired one of the most common conceits in French advertisements during the twenties and thirties, the transformation (e.g. today’s Transformers) of objects of all kinds including fruits, vegetables, animals and even espresso pots.

This form of trade character is still with us – characters today are made from all sorts of everyday things, like this famous drink pitcher. Arcimboldo’s influence has also lasted in post-surrealist illustration circles :

His painting, Water, was used as the cover of the album Masque by the rock band Kansas. A detail from Flora was used on the cover of the 2009 album Bonfires on the Heath by The Clientele.  The ‘soup genie’ character Boldo in the 2008 animated film The Tale of Despereaux, is composed of vegetables.”



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