The purpose of this paper is to make a comparative analysis between two modernist photographic images: Carl Kleiner’s Pepparkakor (meaning gingerbread biscuits) and Con Poulos. The term modernism embraces an assortment of particular philosophical and artistic movements. This incorporate categories such as: expressionism, surrealism, symbolism, dada, vorticism, imagism, and futurism (Unlv, n.d). And according to the history of art, the word ‘modern’ relates to a historic period which ran approximately between the 1860s and the 1970s, and marks the ideology and style of the art that was created throughout that time. The expression ‘modernism’ also relates to the modern period’s art, and ‘modernism’ can also be regarded as relating to modern art’s philosophy (Art History, n.d.).

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Generally speaking, it is believed that modernism was founded during the 1860s, and that the first modernist painter was the Frenchman, Édouard Manet. Manet’s pieces, for example: his Olympia and Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe are responsible for escorting in the period of modernism (Art History, n.d.). The aesthetic aims of modernism attempted to disrupt the classical, traditional style of way representing nature. The artist tries to portray nature immaculately within the conventions of traditional Europe, yet mastery is achieved when an artist can restrict the consciousness of the viewers so that the image they see is mediated, thereby endeavoring to remove the message’s medium (University of Chicago, 2004). Greenberg notes: “The medium was regrettable if necessary physical obstacle between the artist and his audience” (Greenberg, 1940, p.27). Modernism however, conversely views a given medium’s restricting nature as, incomprehensibly, facilitating a discussion between the form of the piece and its content. By achieving this, modernism is both self-aware and mindful of its medium. Marshal Berman notes: “…the only legitimate concern of modernist art was art itself; furthermore, the only rightful focus for an artist in any given form or genre was the nature and limits of the genre: the medium is the message… Modernism, then, was the quest for the pure, self-referential art object” (Berman, 1998, p.30).

In making a comparison between the two images, Pepparkakor and Con Poulos, I think that Pepparkakor, Carl Kleiner’s intriguing food styling piece for Ikea and Forsman & Bodenfors, the advertising agency, is an excellent match for modernist aims and aesthetic, and successfully represents modernism. Kleiner is clearly a diverse thinker, and this piece transmits attention to detail, simplicity, and a nature which is obsessive compulsive, and is aesthetically pleasing to the senses. The detailing and alignment of the gingerbread biscuit ingredients is symmetrically pleasing as are the exaggerated bright colors and textures. In the case of Con Poulos, the layers of the lasagna are aesthetically pleasing, as is the blue plate and the design on the bodice of the child’s dress. The bright colors of the lasagna bring it to life. In comparing the two pieces, Pepparkakor rejects the idea of realism, whereas Con Poulos can be viewed as more realistic. Pepparkakor is is an experiment with form: the ingredients which create biscuits are utilized and made into an art form. Conversely, Con Poulos does not display the ingredients that went into the lasagna. The aesthetics of Pepparkakor are more intriguing and pleasing than Con Poulos, which by comparison seems very ordinary. The turquoise background of Pepparkakor is also aesthetically attractive, whereas the blurred background of Con Poulos, does not deliver any response. The lines of ingredients in Pepparkakor define form, as do the edges of the layers of pasta in Con Poulos.

  • Art History (n.d.). Retrieved from:
  • Berman, M. (1998). All that is Solid Melts into Air. New York: Penguin Books
  • Greenberg, C. (1940). “Towards a Newer Laocoon,”Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criticism. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
  • University of Chicago (2004). Retrieved from:
  • Unlv (n.d.). Retrieved from: