“The Laughing Cow”

Contemporary art, the cash cow

One hundred milligrams of calcium per portion and only 19% fat…this is The Laughing Cow. Something of a cult- and this year it is Belgian artist Wim Delvoye to design the collector’s edition box. Previewing at the FIAC, at only 5 euros, it’s the most affordable piece of contemporary art at this year’s fair. With four hundred million consumers worldwide, two hundred and forty portions eaten each second, The Laughing Cow is the gold standard amongst amateur cheese lovers; the quirky triangular cheese, imprinted with an image of a jovial, earring-clad cow is eaten by half of all families with children under the age of fifteen. It would seem that there is no shortage of milk on the contemporary art scene. Cheese company Bel Group has taken the bull by the horns and launched their ‘collector’s box’, a limited edition by one of the biggest names on the international art scene. So what’s the concept? An upcoming contemporary artist will create a cardboard box with 24 portions of cheese bearing the unmistakeable little red zipper of the sometimes irritating, but essentially loveable brand. Combine this with a good dose of marketing and a worldwide zeal for spreadable cheese, and you have an industrial commodity where a supermarket mainstay meets the fine arts – a gentle nod to Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans. Between Pop art and bovine humour, iconic packaging has been reinstated in the canon of contemporary cool, and The Laughing Cow’s rounds of triangular cheese pieces in salute-worthy packaging is enjoying visible influence on artists. Hans-Peter Feldmann, German artist and passionate image collector, was the first commissioned by Bel Group to create a collectors box. He was followed in consecutive years by Thomas Bayrle, best known for his work with serial repetition techniques, and Jonathan Monk, a...

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