The art of the picnic | Lifestyle | DW | 05.05.2017
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The art of the picnic

From eating at graves to dining outdoors with Louis Vuitton utensils, picnicking has been a favorite pasttime all over the world for centuries. A Frankfurt exhibition traces the history of the picnic in art.

It's unclear when the first picnic ever took place, but the trend of eating outdoors with friends and family has a long history. From the ancient Greeks to Victorian England up through even today, the picnic has served as a social gathering place.

While each country has its own unique picnicking traditions - think of the Mexican Day of the Dead festival, which has families eating at the graves of loved ones - the idea of a picnic seems to be known across many cultures.

In England, members of high society still step out to see and be seen on the lawn outside events like the Wimbledon tennis tournament or Ascot horse race. In Japan, families pack a picnic basket as they head out to the cherry blossom festival in spring.

Whetting appetites for outdoor eating

These outdoor scenes have been popular with painters like Edouard Manet and photographers like Barbara Klemm, who's documented picnics in countries around the world over the last 40 years.

A new exhibition at Frankurt's Museum of Applied Art takes a look at how these events are captured by the art world. Alongside these works of art are also the practical utensils involved: From a 1910 Louis Vuitton picnic case made to fit the trunk of a car to an 18th-century lacquered Japanese set on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum, nearly 1,000 objects are on display.

For visitors to the exhibition, which runs from May 6 through September 17, there are also several special events on the program to get in the picnic spirit. From an intercultural cooking encounter on opening weekend to an opera perfomance at the nearby park, the museum allows visitors to become active participants in the picnic trend.

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