A giant burger, a lipstick on caterpillar tracks, monumental clothespin. These are a few examples of the mind-boggling artworks of the king of Pop Art sculpture, Swedish-born American artist Claes Oldenburg. His monumental public art installations feature large replicas of everyday objects. He came up with a revolutionary idea that sculpture doesn’t necessarily have to be hard, like stone or bronze, but it could be soft, like cloth or paper. Oldenburg introduced the idea of “soft sculpture” into Pop art. Soft sculptures can be made of plastic, rubber, paper, cloth, foam and other supple materials.
In 1962 Oldenburg displayed his three colossal sculptures: “Floor Cake”, “Floor Cone”, and “Floor Burger” in the high-profile Green Gallery in New York. There were made of painted and stuffed canvas. He gave everyday, banal objects, like for example fast-food, the status of art. The artist believed that anything could be considered art. The humorous approach to art and the American culture won him a great popularity. When asked where he got his ideas, Oldenburg replied that he made them all up as a child.
His work received significant acclaim and influenced generations of contemporary sculptors like Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst.
“Food is like clay; you can sculpt with it. Also it has an odor, and you can eat it. I don’t eat a lot of cake, but I do make cakes! And unlike the Campbell’s Soup Cans, my food is a humanized form and scale.”
– Claes Oldenburg
Kidney Beans Burgers
Hamburger is a symbol of American culture and an icon of fast-food industry. Oldenburg’s “Giant Hamburger” takes it out of its context and blows it up to ridiculous proportions: 213 centimetres by 132 centimetres of bun, patty and pickle. This burger was first exhibited in 1962 and is made of canvas stuffed with foam and empty cardboard ice-cream boxes and painted with acrylic paint.
In the 60s the fast-food industry was growing at a rapid pace. Hamburgers have been ever since getting bigger and bigger for less and less money. This of course at the cost of their quality. It almost seems as if Oldenburg predicted the future with his “Giant Hamburger”. His hamburger is colossal and filled with junk and our hamburger became junk food.
Well, let’s be honest, the “Floor Burger” doesn’t look very appetising, does it? My veggie burger on the other hand, mmm… I’m drooling.
Inspired by Oldenburg’s “Giant Hamburger”, which made me think about the negative consequences of fast-food consumption for people and environment, I made these beans burgers.
All sorts of beans are a healthier option for beef, use much less water and have much lower carbon footprint in their production. Beans are high in protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates, folate, and iron.
Beans and portobello mushrooms have that great “meaty” quality, therefore are perfect for veggie burgers.
Making burgers is quite easy and a great fun too. Definitely something you can engage your kids in during the weekend.
I put the burger buns on a grill pan to warm them up, but an oven can be used too.
I made a classic burger sauce for my bean burgers. It pairs great. As for the accompaniments, I like to use a lot. I caramelised the red onions slightly which gives, together with gherkins and jalapeño, a great combination of sour, sweet and spicy. Tomato and cucumber make the burger more juicy and sprouts give it an extra crunch. The choice is really yours. You can also serve these burgers with some good old classic English cheddar. Nom nom nom!
For the burgers
- 2 cans (of 400g) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 Portobello mushrooms, chopped, gills removed
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 3 tsp tomato purée
- 2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
- 1 tsp cumin seeds, ground
- 2 Tbsp sunflower seeds
- 1 Tbsp chickpea flour
- 5 Tbsp sunflower oil
- 6 burger buns
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the sauce
- 3 Tbsp mayonnaise or vegan mayo
- 2 Tbsp ketchup
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp gherkins, finely chopped
- Black pepper, freshly ground
- Pickled jalapeno slices
- Red onion, in thick rings, caramelised
- Tomato, sliced
- Cucumber, sliced
- Mixed sprout
In a small bowl mix mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard. Add chopped gherkins and season with pepper. Stir well with a spoon.
Heat 2 table spoons of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion, garlic, spices and sunflower seeds and cook for 5 minutes stirring from time to time.
Place the beans in a large bowl. Crash with a potato masher, leaving some whole. Add the content of the pan, tomato purée, parsley and chickpea flour. Season generously with salt and pepper. Stir until thoroughly combined. Divide the mixture into 6 portions and form into patties. Wet or floured hands make it easier to form nice burgers.
Heat 3 table spoons of oil in a large non-stick pan. Add patties and bake until browned on the bottom, then flip carfully. Bake until browned and crusty on the other side. Be careful and gentle while flipping the burgers. They are quite fragile.
Serve on buns with sauce and accompaniments.