Why Are So Many Art Collectors Hungry For Pictures of Cakes?


iconic pop art cake images orabge on cremeWhen collectors are seeking to purchase high quality, original works on paper, we are delighted to find that they often locate Komarin Cakes. Issues of content meet formal concerns. Collectors of Komarin Cakes are drawn to both the subject, i.e. cakes, and the way that those cakes are painted. Form and Content are always on the tightrope. How something is painted is as important as what that something is.

In recent months, several of my dealers were contacted by individuals who had specific and quite personal motivations to purchase Cake paintings. One circumstance dealt with the celebration of wedded bliss. Several weeks later, another individual contacted one of my gallerists seeking a Cake to honor the loss of a loved one. We were — needless to say — touched by both requests.

I began to paint Cakes and Stacked Cakes in the mid ‘90s in New York when I was first invited to show with Jean Michel Basquiat and Philip Guston.

The Cakes were unplanned, as is the case with all my work, and happily arrived in my studio without  an appointment one spring morning in 1995.

The pictures of cakes are a marriage of sorts between the domestic and the architectural.

My father was an architect who trained in Prague and my mother a writer from Vienna who baked many cakes when we were growing up. Her baking skills were less about technique and perfection of form  and more about love and a certain deliciousness that was itself largely unplanned.

Cakes are most often celebratory throughout world cultures East and West. Birthday and weddings come to mind but there are a great many other occasions when cakes are served to create a festive atmosphere. And while they may reference Architecture with their stacked tiers, they are also sweet and fun to eat.

These pictures of cake melt in the mouth and the mind’s eye as well.

As soon as early man figured out a way to make cakes — whether wheat based or corn based or based on another grain, they quickly became part of the human diet and served simultaneously in religious and tribal functions when there was some event to be celebrated.

Three ways cake is used in the vernacular language

Cakes have also entered the language of all persons on the planet. When one discusses an achievement that was easy to accomplish, people will often say “it was a piece of cake!!”

The term “Cake Walk” originated in slave times in this country. Deprived of fancy goods, and needing to create festive events and find ways to have playful moments, slaves devised a dance of  ‘Crazy Walks’, where each competing individual would in turn do the craziest and wackiest walk they could devise, often to music, a fiddle or a drum. The winner of the contest would receive a cake as a present, hence the term CAKEWALK .

Cakes have also become common in slang, as a euphemism for sex. I’ll leave it to the reader to dig further, if you wish, how the word has woven its way into song lyrics and online chatter.

The process for creating pictures of Cakes, as part of a continuing iteration of paintings

My Cakes are often painted on paper bags or paper sacks that are flattened and joined from the back. A paper bag has great beauty to it and an elemental design that is quite stunning in that a bag can hold so much weight relative to the thickness of its paper components. When flattened, has the delightful simplicity of Japanese origami.

When the bags are stacked they resemble stone blocks. The heaviest layers are on the bottom and lighter and smaller layers on top. This was the only way to build stone structures in earlier times before I-beams of steel and other methods were developed.

A Komarin Cake begins from the top and works its way down. The ‘ground’ is painted on individual bags, left to dry and joined from the back, blindly as it were, as no attempt is made to arrange the bags in a deliberate fashion.

Drips arrive as that is the nature of wet paint and liquid icing. They happily tend to fall in the right places.

The Cake is done when the brush hits the bottom layer. For me, the Cakes are a delight, as they resemble architecture without the responsibility of structural integrity. They can lean this way and that. The collector delights in the spontaneity of the brushstroke against the grid.

A Komarin Cake painting is always pushing unknown territory. I never know how a piece will land. Everyone wants to take a bite.