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Picture This: Artists use gingerbread to recreate famous art museums

Gingerbread Museums

Henry Hargreaves

Tate Modern, London, Herzog & de Meuron. Gingerbread, hard candy, cotton candy, bubble gum.

Gingerbread Museums

Henry Hargreaves

The Louvre, Paris, I.M.Pei. Gingerbread, hard candy, licorice.

Gingerbread Museums

Henry Hargreaves

Museo Soumaya, Mexico City, Fernando Romero. Candy balls, gingerbread, sour rolls, taffy.

Gingerbread Museums

Henry Hargreaves

Maxxi – National Museum of the 21st Century Arts, Rome, Zaha Hadid. Gingerbread, hard candy, lollipop sticks.

Gingerbread Museums

Henry Hargreaves

Karuizawa Museum, Nagano, Yasui Hideo. Chocolate, gingerbread, hard candy, cotton candy, sour flush.

Gingerbread Museums

Henry Hargreaves

Museum Aan de Stroom (MAS), Antwerp, Neutelings Riedijk Architects. Gingerbread, lego candy, hard candy, sesame candy, chocolate, bubble gum, sour rolls.

Gingerbread museums

Henry Hargreaves

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Frank Lloyd Wright. Icing, gingerbread, cotton candy, candy wrappers, licorice, sugar.


As Christmas approaches, many families are getting into the holiday spirit, stringing up lights, decorating trees and, of course, making gingerbread houses.

The latter is an old tradition, one that can be traced back to medieval Europe. Now it's taking on a new form thanks to Brooklyn-based photographer Henry Hargreaves and food stylist Caitlin Levin, who are putting their own twist on gingerbread architecture.

The pair put together a delicious collection of photographs featuring landmark museums around the world. Think the Louvre in Paris and the Tate Modern in London, made completely out of gingerbread, licorice and hard candy.

The black and white pictures were displayed at Dylan's Candy Bar in Miami for Art Basel 2013, and if you didn't know any better you would think they were the real thing. 

Henry and Caitlin join the show to talk about their project and how they managed to create gingerbread replicas of some of the world's most iconic museums. 

Interview highlights:

On how they came up with the idea:
Caitlin
: "We've been talking with Dylan Lauren from Dylan's Candy, and she came to us and said, 'Look, we would love to work with you on something that's candy related,' and she had opened up this new store in Miami, so we thought it could be a cool opportunity to do something to kind of bridge the candy, the art, and sort of the festive season. We thought gingerbread could be a great thing to do there, but let's not do gingerbread houses, let's do something that hasn't really been done or we haven't seen so we thought we do art galleries."

On other food art they've done:
Caitlin
: "It runs the gamut. Henry and I love to get really creative so we did a project this year, we called it Rothkos, which we reinterpreted Rothkos out of rice that we hand-dyed, we deep fried all kinds of electronic gadgets, we have made Napoleon out of ketchup, we've done all kinds of crazy things. 

On the time it took and construction:
Caitlin
: "In general, they probably took about two days a piece. So we put a lot of hard work into this. They were very tedious and time consuming. It was actually a really fun project in that way because before we made the actual gingerbread houses or art galleries, we made models out of foamcore, we cut pieces and made models like architects would and it was really fun."

Henry: What the foamcore allowed us to do is to see if we were actually making a building that would fit together and then once we had the foamcore model created, we would then basically supplement each piece with gingerbread so then the final piece was made of gingerbread, not foamcore."

On the challenges of making the gingerbread museums:
Caitlin
: "Gingerbread shrinks and crumbs a lot. Lots of crumbling and lots of crumbs everywhere."

Henry: "It has also got quite a thin outer layer so when you also ice the side, suddenly just the exterior, it's usually the wallpaper, will come off. That kind of a thing so you often having to drill in little supports and things like that as well."

On the response so far:
Henry
: "People have been really digging the series. One of those things I always get a kick out of, is when people look at pictures and they actually think they're looking at the art galleries and they're like, 'Well, what's so special about this?' And it's kind of one of those look a little closer and you'll see this is all candy and gingerbread. And I think when people do that and people's reaction is, 'Wow, how did you do it?' That's the reaction we aim to get."

On the process of photographing the gingerbread museums:
Henry
: "We wanted to do something more interesting than just, 'OK, here's the building and let's take a picture from the front.' We were trying to look for really interesting angles so as we researched we found how people had shot it, then we were like, 'Let's try to get these angles and light it in the most interesting way possible.' So for something like the Louvre or the MAS in Antwerp where there was a lot of glass windows, we thought these would be much more interesting to show at night so we can actually light through the windows, but ultimately everything was photographed and lit the way that would be the most interesting, hopefully, for the viewer." 

On the museums they couldn't make out of gingerbread:
Henry
: "There were actually quite a few. We had to figure out that kind of balance between iconic ones, ones we were able to do, ones people knew, but also ones that were new to people. There was the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. We actually started working on, but it has so much intricate glass work that it was just going to take us so, so long."

On working with candy and sugar:
Caitlin
: "I think the thing that surprised us the most was how fun it could be. We really learned a lot of new techniques and got to make silicon molds for example or learned how to carve gingerbread and just learning new techniques, working with new materials is always fun for both of us."

On what's going to happen to the gingerbread museums after the holidays?
Caitlin
: "Well, the pieces live on in photographs so the originals didn't make it to Miami because they are very difficult to transport. Unfortunately, we had to eat them all, and they live on in photographs and after the holidays we're hoping to maybe display them somewhere in New York, possibly again at Dylan's Candy."


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