John Olsen : A Recipe for Art

written by Leanne Santoro

Art Gallery of NSW with Thames & Hudson | ISBN 9780500500859

Hardback – 148 pages


Member’s price: $18.00

In the past year I have learned to cook, to make a fire, prepare a canvas ...
— John Olsen, December 1958


John Olsen, one of Australia’s greatest living artists, made a life-changing discovery as a young man: Mediterranean cuisine, ‘the cuisine of the sun’. Fresh, seasonal produce and its preparation has been central to his life and a key ingredient in his creativity and his art, from his famous paella paintings to lively sketches in his diaries. Born in Newcastle in 1928, Olsen embarked on his first overseas trip in 1956. His life and art have been strongly influenced by place, food and friendship.

'A recipe for art' embarks on the journey of Olsen’s passion for cooking from his time in Spain on the island of Majorca, to Australia, France, Portugal and Italy, amongst other places, mapping Olsen’s life through recipes, quotes, paintings and photographs captured along the way. It also draws extensively on Olsen’s journals. He has lived in a remote Spanish cottage without electricity, in the Portuguese village of Castelo de Vide with his young family, on a rural property in Hill End, NSW, at an artists’ commune in country Victoria, as well by the harbour in Sydney’s Watsons Bay, all the while drawing on his local environment in his art practice and cooking.
Featuring some 40 recipes by or loved by Olsen, 30 related paintings, over 50 sketches and drawings, and over 65 photographs of places, family and friends.

Artist: John Olsen