When you walk into a small restaurant and see the paintings on the walls, you might assume that the place is full of mushroom art.
But that’s not necessarily the case.
“It’s not really the mushrooms themselves that are so special,” says Jessica C. Lewis, an artist and professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.
“There’s so many different things that are going on in the culture, and so many of them have very clear and obvious connections to the food itself.”
What’s more, many of the paintings were made by a small number of artists in the early 1900s.
That means that even though the artwork may look like it came from a traditional painting gallery, it was made by artists who weren’t part of the larger art community.
“If you go back and look at the art that we know of, there are so many artists out there that have done work that’s influenced the work of these artists,” Lewis says.
“I think we’re just not seeing as many artists from the past as we should be.”
The artist who started it All of the artwork is unique and unique works, and it’s not always easy to determine who painted what.
In the 1920s, when there were no permanent galleries, artists began creating paintings in their basements.
“We call it the underground art,” Lewis explains.
“They would sit around, look at all these old paintings and go, ‘Oh, this is probably what I did,’ and they would come back and paint new paintings.”
That’s where art history buffs come in.
“That was one of the first periods in art history where artists were very active in the art world,” says Lewis.
“People like Thomas Mann, Claude Monet, and the greats like Pablo Picasso were very much involved in this underground art scene.”
As more and more artists came out of their basement studios and began creating their own artworks, the underground scene became even more popular.
In fact, Lewis says that the art of underground artists has become so popular today that many of today’s artists are “inventing” their own works.
But not all of the artists who created paintings for the underground scenes were the same artists who started them.
For instance, Lewis notes that there are a lot of people in this world who have worked in the food industry.
“This has really gone on over the years,” she says.
Lewis says artists who were in the business of selling food in the 1920’s and 1930’s were influenced by the food trade, and many of their works are still used today.
Lewis has collected some of the most popular underground artists in her museum collection.
In addition to Thomas Mann’s “Fancy” and “Viva La Luna,” which Lewis says is the most widely known and the most talked about, there’s also a painting by Gustav Klimt called “Vivienne,” which she says is “the first of its kind.”
And then there’s another work by painter David A. Sargent called “The Garden,” which was a collaboration between artist Charles Baudelaire and artist Richard Serra.
“The garden is a very large and beautiful landscape in which there are large trees and there are also flowers and grasses and birds and flowers,” Lewis notes.
“Serra was very into the symbolism of the garden and wanted to put a lot more of his own imagery in the painting, but he didn’t want it to be too serious or overly abstract.”
And for those of us who grew up in the 1970s and ’80s, the most famous artist who was an underground artist was Robert Rauschenberg.
Rauschberg’s paintings, which are now in private collections around the world, are now on display in the Biodome of New York City.
Lewis also points out that many artists who made art in the underground spaces in the 1940s and 1950s are still working.
“You can still find people in the arts industry today who are still in the field and who still do it,” she notes.
Many of the artist’s paintings also have an ironic edge to them.
“For instance, there is a painting called ‘A Visit From My Mother’ that was done by a young woman called Rosalind Krausch,” Lewis points out.
Krauschaert, who would go on to become the wife of American painter Charles M. Krauss, was an art professor at the City College of New Jersey and the first woman to graduate from the school.
“She did a couple of paintings for her graduate thesis and her husband thought that she would be a great artist and that it would be interesting to see what she would create,” Lewis tells The Huffington New Yorker.
Krautchie had an interest in painting, so she decided to become an artist, and she became interested in the work that was being done by other artists who had done similar work.
“And that was the beginning of her art career,” Lewis recalls. Krause was