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Art Nerd New York

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Gordon Matta-Clark’s Food

I love Gordon Matta-Clark. It is true. I love how he turned architecture into sculpture, by cutting holes in buildings or slicing them in half. I love how he bought random properties from auction, and would film his visits to them- often they’d be a 10’ x 1’ strip between two buildings, or a tiny corner of a yard. Everything Matta-Clark did was art, including cooking and eating.

In 1971, inspired by their dinner party scene and the lack of eateries in Soho, Matta-Clark, his then girlfriend Caroline Goodden, and artist Tina Girouard opened Food, an artist run restaurant on Prince and Wooster Streets. FOOD was a pioneer in many ways. Firstly, their cuisine concepts predated anything that was common at the time, but what has come to be current restaurant trends. The menu was seasonal and local, the kitchen was fully open to the restaurant, and regional and ethnic foods, such as sashimi, ceviche and borscht, took the stage. Giant communcal bowls of fresh butter and parsley were ever present on the counters, and artisan bakers from Vermont would come down to make Food’s bread.

The cooking itself was seen as a performance art piece.  Artists were weekly guest chefs, Matta-Clark cooking occasionally, but also modern dancers, and the likes of Donald Judd and Robert Kushner. One of Matta-Clarks famous dinners was called “bone dinner,” and after the oxtail soup and boney dishes were cleared, the remaining bones were scrubbed and strung together, creating a parting gift that guests could wear home.

Food acted as a sort of arts philanthropist- employing many struggling artists as waiters, cooks, bus boys- and provided good food for a low price, as well as pocket money and mutual support between artists. The restaurant was open for only 3 years, and was sold in 1974 after it had become too popular and fashionable in the arts scene- therefore a lot of work for Matta-Clark and Goodden to keep up with, as they wanted to focus on their own artistic endeavors.

Who: Gordon Matta-Clark

What: Food restaurant site

Where: Corner of Prince and Wooster