Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

Jeremy Fried on Soup


Image Courtesy of Jeremy Fried

This is entry #80 in our ongoing 100 Philosophers, 100 Artworks, 100 Words Series.

Philosopher: Jeremy Fried, University of Oklahoma

Artwork: Soup, no artist, no date. Liquid (generally water-based), edible organic matter

Words: Is soup art? It’s certainly aesthetic, but that doesn’t necessarily make something art. Sure, Andy Warhol’s painting of a soup can counts, but when you empty the mass-produced tomato slurry of the painting’s subject into a bowl and call that art, some questions arise. But even that commodified version connects back to the peasant food whose slow simmering allows otherwise unpalatable or inedible components to become part of a symphony of flavor and balance. My mother’s matzoh ball soup connects me to my culture, my past, and now that she’s gone, to her. Soup is magic. Maybe that’s enough.


  1. Yes there can be many things that can connect one to a heritage, a past and a beloved personal memory. Thanks for adding soup to the list.

  2. Nice choice.
    It strikes me that it’s soup in general (no artist, no date) rather than mom’s matzo ball soup in particular. Soup is a medium or genre, and picking soup as such seems like a kind of conceptual art judo move.

  3. Never thought about the fact that soup, and so many other foods, are made of a bunch of ingredients you’d never eat on their own. And so true, like smells and music, food does often conjure up memories and connections. Really liked what you wrote in such a sort piece.

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