Exhibit Review: Gluten Free Museum


By Tanya Silverman

Gluten Free Museum’s American Gothic by Grant Wood.

Apparently Andy Warhol and Samuel L. Jackson went on the same diet. There’s evidence the plump Chief Wiggum from The Simpsons and the wiry male farmer in American Pitchfork subscribed to the lifestyle, too. In fact, it even relieved the latter of needing his iconic pitchfork.

Such seemingly healthy dietary choices are shown in the Gluten Free Museum, a Tumblr page maintained by Paris-based graphic designer Arthur Coulet. Out of amusement, curiosity, and a culturally influenced guilt for consuming wheat products regularly, I reached out to Coulet to learn more about his transgressive gluten-free art project.

Gluten Free Museum’s Still Life with Bread and Eggs by Paul Cezanne.

He informs me his inspiration came from his regular surroundings, in which the presence of gluten-free edibles increases on a daily basis. However, by trying to adapt traditional foods to gluten-free versions, we realistically end up preparing replacements that are “radically different.”

“This transformation seems to be a real challenge for the industry and cooks,” he says. “I thought there was something funny in the idea of ‘doing the same thing, gluten free,’ and that the concept could go beyond the power sector, focusing in particular representation.”

Gluten Free Museum’s The Gleaners by Jean-Francois Millet.

As such, some Gluten Free Museum art pieces are shocking. Coulet attests that the “most violent images are without doubt the most popular,” alluding to his version of The Gleaners by Jean-Francois Millet. The three painted female peasants have nothing to harvest off the fields; the wheat doesn’t exist.

Other works are subtler, like a Salvador Dali still life where bread loaves are deleted. However, Coulet points out that subtly removing a loaf from Caravaggio’s depiction of the Eucharist actually makes it “the most subversive image” because it raises “blasphemous questions.” What about the body of Christ? Doesn’t it contain gluten?

Gluten Free Museum’s Summer by Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

Coulet is consistently creative with the ways he alters different images. Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s Summer portrait profile depcits a main losing his entire grainy torso and forehead to be reduced to a head of fruits and vegetables. Erasing the spaghetti dish out of Lady and the Tramp’s iconic back-alley dinner causes the cartoon dogs to be strangely staring at an empty tabletop.

Maintaining the museum, Coulet says, has greatly slowed the acquisitions process. He seeks not to increase the collection infinitely, but to “achieve a coherent corpus.”

“The challenge is to stabilize the collections in a diverse and representative range of styles and different eras,” he explains. “The museum will be open and have free access as long as possible!”

All images courtesy of Arthur Coulet.