Towards a Ham Sandwich Theory of Art

In his cryptic and chaotic first novel V, Thomas Pynchon describes the work of a painter named Slab:

Slab and Esther, uncomfortable with each other, stood in front of an easel in his place, looking at cheese Danish No. 35. The cheese danish was a recent obsession of Slab’s. He had taken, some time ago, to painting in a frenzy these morning-pastries in every conceivable style, light, and setting. The room was already littered with Cubist, Fauve and Surrealist cheese Danishes. “Monet spent his declining years at his home in Giverny, painting the water lilies in the garden pool,” reasoned Slab, “He painted all kinds of water lilies. He like water lilies. These are my declining years. I like cheese Danishes.”

Essentially, as Slab indicates, what does the subject matter matter? It’s all just grist for the artistic mill. Water lilies or cheese danish, what is the difference?

This bears some relationship to the current “ham sandwich” theory of politics, as in: “I’ll vote for a ham sandwich if it is the Democratic nominee.” To which, by the way, I subscribe.

Food metaphors are great!

My images of folds in the earth (below) from Death Valley’s Zabriskie point are a kind of ham sandwich, cheese danish, or water lily. I could go on photographing this kind of abstraction forever, regardless of scale, and its great that these textures add up to a magnificent and vast landscape.

Related stories: Death Valley Landscapes; Lost in the Hills.

Zabriskie View © Harold Davis

Zabriskie View © Harold Davis

Badlands © Harold Davis

Badlands © Harold Davis

Earth © Harold Davis

Earth © Harold Davis

This entry was posted in Landscape, Photography.

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