The art of the picnic
From eating at graves to dining outdoors with Louis Vuitton untensils, picnicking has been a favorite pasttime all over the world for centuries. A Frankfurt exhibition traces the history of the picnic in art.
The art of eating outdoors
With over 1,000 objects on display, the "Picnic Time" exhibition at the Frankfurt Musuem of Applied Art traces both the history of the picnic and the cultural variations of it throughout time. A famous Edouard Manet painting capturing a picnic in 19th-century France hangs at the opening. This painting by Heinrich Hasselhorst likewise shows the way high society saw outdoor eating as a social event.
Picnicking in style
Utensils also play a big role in the exhibition, with an elaborately decorated Japanese lacquered picnic set from around 1800 shown alongside this 1910 Louis Vuitton case. Made especially for auto and motorcycle trips into nature, the case shows that picnicking was not to be taken lightly. From porcelain plates and silverware to champagne flutes, the utensils were nothing to toss away afterward.
Picnic in Capetown
Over the last 40 years, Frankfurt-based photographer Barbara Klemm has snapped a lot of images of people picnicking around the world. Whether taken in Capetown (like here in 1978), China, Iran or Ukraine, the images have one thing in common: They capture the togetherness of a group of people eating out in the open. It's only when shown alongside each other that the differences become notable.
Picnic at the Henley Royal Regatta
Although eating outdoors was already a beloved pasttime across Europe, the French gave the phenomenon a name - "pique-nique" - in the Baroque period. The love affair has continued among high society, and was especially popular in 18th-century England. Members of the upper-class continue to picnic at events such as the Ascot horse races and Henley Royal Regatta, pictured here in 2016.
Picnicking at the grave
The Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos, is a major holiday in Mexico. Those who have died are celebrated by those they left behind. In the days-long festival, family members gather around a grave and feast, as in th 2012 painting by Felix Pestemer (pictured). It's not an entirely unique tradition; British nobility are said to have picnicked at the edges of battlefields since the Napoleonic wars.
Lunch on the grass, over the centuries
A meal on the grass has grown to be beloved by people worldwide. The Greeks enjoyed eating outdoors in nature, a trend that caught on in Britain by the late 18th century. An early contemporary work depicting the picnic is shown here - "Déjeuner sur l'herbe" (Lunch on the Grass) -, captured in this 2017 snapshot by street artists Gündem Gözpinar and Balázs Vesszösi: "Déjeuner sur l'herbe 2.0."