This art is pretty sweet.
In honor of the sugar-fueled tradition that is Halloween, we bring you the best in art that uses candy as its primary source of material. Where you may just see a handful of jelly beans or gummy bears that are meant to be in your stomach right now, these artists see the tools to make pieces worthy of hanging in a museum. They take playing with their food to a whole new level.
Jason Kronenwald wins points for the clever name of his gum art series. "Gum Blonde" features portraits made entirely from chewed bubblegum, which is then stuck to a plywood backing. There's no use of dye or paint here -- the various shades of pink and requisite blond are the result of mixing the gum while it's chewed. (Kronenwald has resident gum chewers to do the dirty work for him.) Bubblicious and Bubble Tape are two favorite brands of the Canadian artist, who has created two dozen of these portraits since 1996. Subjects range from celebrities, including Jessica Simpson, Avril Lavigne, Britney Spears, Hillary Clinton and Marilyn Monroe (a recurring image among candy art), to just random, beautiful women. All blond, of course.
Chances are you've never had these chocolate-coated candies dropped in your trick or treat bag (not to be confused with the more ubiquitous tangy wafer candy). That's because these Smarties, a U.K. favorite, are hard to find in the U.S. Still, you're not missing much -- they're pretty much like M&Ms. In 2008, the über-British-sounding food artist Prudence Emma Staite made waves when she recreated famous paintings using the multicolored candies. There was Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe (see!) and Georges-Pierre Seurat's "Bathers at Asnières," as well as famous U.K. landmarks. It was a neat trick, with the resulting works almost as appealing as the originals. But there was one catch -- the pictures were part of a publicity stunt for, of course, Smarties.
Here's another commissioned series by a candy manufacturer: The late Peter Rocha and his nephew, Roger, created dozens of mosaics using jelly beans. They were all at the behest of the Jelly Belly Candy Company (a gallery of all the works is on Jelly Belly's website) but they're impressive nonetheless. The mosaics are made using thousands of jelly beans, with subjects ranging from presidents, such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, to famous people, including Elvis, Marilyn Monroe (see!!!), George Clooney and James Dean, to icons, such as Harry Potter, the Statue of Liberty and, of course, the Jelly Bean logo.
The family duo weren't the only ones commissioned by the jelly bean giant to create art using its candy. Californian Kristen Cumings has made a name for herself with her jelly bean art. Pieces include replicas of famous paintings, including Van Gogh's "Starry Night," "The Mona Lisa," "Girl with a Pearl Earring" and "The Great Wave," as well as more general subjects such as Harry Potter (he's quite popular, too), a cupcake and, randomly, a grizzly bear.
Good & Plenty
San Francisco portrait artist Jason Mecier makes art out of anything he can get his hands on -- beans, potato chips, cookies, noodles and, of course, candy. The mosaics are in the likenesses of random celebrities, like Rosie O'Donnell and Kristi Yamaguchi. One creation is of particular note for its use of a Halloween staple -- a portrait of Taylor Swift, made entirely of Good & Plenty. Given the limited color offerings, it's a mix of painstakingly placed purple and white licorice candy that's undeniably the confessional country star. Though, if you didn't know any better, you might think they were also pills. So there's that.
Fruit Flashers Hard Candy
The late Cuban artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres made a name for himself in the process art movement with his conceptual sculptures -- 700 pounds of black licorice in a corner was one such work. "Portrait of Ross" is easily his most famous. For this installation, the artist used 175 pounds of Fruit Flasher candy -- with the number representing the ideal weight the doctor recommended for his boyfriend when he was diagnosed with HIV. When it's on display, viewers are encouraged to help themselves, with candy added every day to make it weigh 175 pounds once again to represent the give-and-take, both emotionally and physically, of the disease.
It may seem a little obvious to make a bear out of gummy bears, but Taiwanese artist YaYa Chou's resulting sculpture is so unexpected and charming. The piece in question, "Simon," is an oddly expressive bear rug made in 2006 using greens, yellows and browns of the chewy candy. Bears aren't her only creations; past sculptures have featured dinosaurs, deer and children as subjects.
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For Halloween candy as art, this is the ultimate. Photography duo ROCKMADE -- also known as New York artists Rebecca Odes and Craig Kanarick -- don't limit themselves to just one treat. Rather, their colorful photography relies on all classes of candy -- Skittles, Starbursts, M&Ms, gummy bears, candy dots, life savers, jelly beans, even those gross taffy peanuts. We could go on. They're arranged by type of candy, or characteristics such as color, size or subject, like animals, all in pleasing geometric patterns. The photographs can even be custom-made, so you can have a studio shot of your own favorite candy.