Daniel Spoerri Inspired Collaborative Pizza Party

In the first session of Art Academy for 6-10 year olds this spring, we looked at artists and artwork inspired by food and our rituals and habits around eating. For this project, we took our inspiration from contemporary Swiss artist, Daniel Spoerri, who is best known for his so-called "snare pictures," which are large scale assemblages of what is left on a table after a meal has been eaten by a group of people. These works are made up of "used" cutlery, dinnerware, and napkins. They might also include spilled drinks, leftover bites, change, ashtrays, flower arrangements, wine corks and bottles, or paper ephemera left behind by one of the diners. His works are hung up on the wall, taking the table and its contents to the vertical. Viewed like this, they become intriguing tableaus with clues about what has happened in the moments before we, the viewers, arrived. Our students had fun following the clues and making educated guesses about who was there, what was eaten, and where the meal was enjoyed. In viewing Spoerri's work, they readily made connections to their own experiences dining with family and friends and to the idea that these times are poignant and celebratory. It was easy after this conversation to leap into creating our own tableau of a pizza party interrupted. This lesson could be adapted for students K-12.

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Students will look at several of Daniel Spoerri's "snare picture" assemblages and make observations and guesses regarding the artist's use of materials and the story he is trying to tell.

Students will make connections between Spoerri's work and their own experiences sharing a meal with friends and family.

Students will make their own individual half-consumed meal, including a piece of pizza, a side dish of their choice, and a beverage.

Students will work together to compose a collaborative pizza party assemblage made up of all their individual efforts.

Students will make observations about the piece once it is completed and reflect on their art-making process.

  • paper plates, cups, and napkins, and plastic silverware (optional)
  • pre-cut cardboard pizza sized triangles (one for each student)
  • additional cardboard for side dishes 
  • One large sheet of cardboard for the table (ours measured 2' x 6' and accommodated 10 place settings)
  • scissors
  • acrylic paint- yellow, white, brown, red, green, and black
  • paint brushes and palettes
  • tissue paper in a variety of colors
  • hot glue (for the teacher)
1. Use a box cutter to cut out pizza slices from scrap cardboard. Make one for each student. If you have the time, consider hot gluing a strip of paper towel tubing to each piece to create the crust.

2. To elevate the look of the tableau, consider choosing a color palette and painting the plates and cups ahead of time. If you did this as a two day project, you could have the students do this themselves.

1. Look closely at one of Spoerri's works and ask students what they notice. When they give an answer, use the follow up question "What makes you say that?" to encourage even deeper observations. Some things to discuss include: how the object was made, what were the materials used, what do the objects offer in the way of telling a story, speculation about meaning, etc.

2. Continue the conversation, facilitating connections between the artwork and students' own experiences with dining with a group of family and/or friends. What feelings or memories do they associate with these experiences?

3. Tell students about the pizza party project and set them up with their cardboard pizza slice, paints and paintbrush.

4. Demonstrate painting the sauce, cheese, and crust. For younger students, this may mean spending some time on color mixing to achieve different shades of yellow, red, and tan.

5. While the pizza slice base paint is drying, have students decide on a side dish to create. We had cookies, salads, a bag of Dorito's, ranch dressing, cheese sticks, and even some mashed potatoes! All of this was created using scrap cardboard cut to shape and then painted. Again, for younger students, you may need to assist them with cutting the cardboard and/or mixing paint colors.

6. Once they've finished the side dish, the pizza slices will be dry enough to paint on the toppings of their choice.

7. Finishing touches include: filling their cups with tissue paper the color of their preferred beverage, crumpling and painting napkins, and potentially adding paint splotches to silverware and the plate. They can also "take bites" out of their slice by trimming it down with scissors.

8. As the students finish their individual art making, allow them to set their place at the collaborative cardboard "table" and create their tableau.

9. Once the tableau is set, you will need to hot glue everything down, securing the food on the plate, and the plate, cup, silverware, and napkin on the table.

10. Display on a wall and allow students to spend some time making observations about the work and reflecting on their process.

The Frozen Dinners of Daniel Spoerri by Thomas Marks, Apollo Magazine