Cookook Reviews

Published on March 19th, 2013 | by Jennifer Kaplan


The Art Of Clean Up [Book Review]

Buchstabensuppe_023_DEF Buchstabensuppe_025_DEF_REV

There are levels of tidiness. Tidy. Very Tidy. And Totally Deranged Tidy. Ursus Wehrli is in Category Three. —


I was sent a review copy of The Art of Clean Up, a new book of photographs by Swiss artist, Ursus Wehrli, and everyone in my family (ages 7 -50) fell instantly in love with it.  As his bio says, Wehrli is “a man of obsessive order” and that truth is wonderfully and stunningly revealed in The Art of Clean Up.

Art of Clean Up

Already a bestseller in Germany, this compulsive title has sold more than 100,000 copies in less than a year, and the fastidiously arranged images have garnered blog love from NPR, Brain Pickings, swissmiss, and more. Tapping into the desire for organization and the insanity of über-order, Wehrli humorously categorizes everyday objects and situations by color, size, and shape. He arranges alphabet soup into alphabetical order, sorts the night sky by star size, and aligns sunbathers’ accoutrements—all captured in bright photographs sure to astonish even the pickiest of neat freaks.

If  you’re wondering, like I did, what kind of guy Ursus Wehrli is, his bio states that his is an award-winning comedian, live performer, and freelance artist. His previous books are Tidying Up Art (Prestel Publishing, 2003) and More Tidying Up Art (Scalo Publishing 2007), which tidy up the elements in famous paintings.He lives in Zurich, Switzerland.

And if you want to see Wehrli in action, which I would recommend, watch his TED Talk or check him out on YouTube directing the arrangement of the photos on pages 26 and 27 of the book.

Here are a few samples of his handiwork. There are so many great juxtapositions and many of my favorites are food related. If you love the alphabet soup as much as I did you are sure to crack a smile at the plate of tidy fishsticks.

Unorganized Clothesline/Organized Clothesline:


Bouquet/Tidy Bouquet:

Blumenstrauss aufgeraumt

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About the Author

is a former marketing consultant who decided, at the age of fifty, to turn her hand to creative non-fiction. Jennifer continues to write about sustainable food and wine, the intersection of food and marketing and food politics for and is the author of Greening Your Small Business (November 2009, Penguin Group (USA)). She was named one of The 16 Women You Must Follow on Twitter for Green Business. She has four kids, a dog, a hamster and an MBA - follow her on and .

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