The Beyoncé Cleanse
Italian photographer Dan Bannino has recently completed a cheeky art project, to translate a bunch of celebrity fad diets from our own time (as well as a couple from a few centuries ago) and depict them in the form of a magnificent still life by a great master, perhaps an inspired 17th-century “daubster” (hey, I had to look it up too) from Holland, Flanders, or some place like that. I can’t remember who said it, possibly someone from Monty Python, that the essence of comedy is to elevate the humble and bring down the lofty, and this series of photographs (which are quite pretty in their own right) certainly fits that paradigm.
Here’s Bannino’s comment on the series:
With this series my aim was to capture the beauty that lies in this terrible constriction of diets and deprivation, giving them the importance of an old master’s painting. I wanted to make them significant, like classic works of arts that are becoming more and more weighty as they grow older. My aim was to show how this weirdness hasn’t changed even since the 15th century.
I don’t think I knew that the “Cleanse” is so closely associated with Beyoncé. In fact, the Cleanse has been around for much longer than Beyoncé has been alive. It was originally called the Master Cleanse, as I believe it still is, and was developed by Stanley Burroughs in the 1940s and, decades later, promoted in his books The Master Cleanser and Healing for the Age of Enlightenment (both 1976)—by the bye, isn’t that second title just totally spot-on for a book that would come out today? Burroughs was, at least in that sense, way ahead of his time.
Charles Saatchi, Eggs diet
Gwyneth Paltrow, Strict detox diet
Bill Clinton, Cabbage soup diet
Kate Moss, Hollywood diet
Simon Cowell, Life-enhancing diet
Luigi Cornaro, Sober life
Henry VIII, Banquet diet
Lord Byron, Romantic poet’s diet
For the curious, here’s the real thing. This is the Dutch painter Willem Claeszoon Heda’s Breakfast Table with Blackberry Pie from 1631: