Fried, scrambled, boiled, poached – eggs have been stimulating minds as a source of creative inspiration for decades now. Today these oval-shaped shells packed with protein are more than brain food, they’ve inspired what we wear, where we sit, the environment in which we live and the art that we look at.
It wasn’t until the introduction of Jean Royere’s Egg “Oeuf” Chair in 1950, that the world’s most popular breakfast food migrated from the kitchen to the living room. In subsequent years, the French designer introduced an accompanying egg stool, an egg sofa, and an egg chest of drawers in 1956, thus completing the ideal oval furniture set.
In the later 1950s, Danish architect Arne Jacobsen was commissioned to design furniture for the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. In 1958, Jacobsen released his rendition of an egg chair for the hotel’s lobby. The chair’s fabric-covered rounded shell, set on an aluminum base, was an instant hit in its ability to provide privacy and its ideal configuration for lounging. The chair went into immediate production through Fritz Hansen and its shape has since become synonymous with Danish furniture design.
In the early 1960s Cristóbol Balenciaga developed a new outwear silhouette he called the ‘Egg’ Coat. Rounded at the shoulders and bulbous in the back with low-set arms, the cut of the coat gave Balenciaga’s woman an ideal couture shape without any effort on part of the wearer. This cut was quickly imitated throughout the swinging 60s and popularized once again by Nicolas Ghesquière in his Fall/Winter 2006 collection for the house of Balenciaga.
Throughout the 1960s as the popularity of eggs in the arts continued to rise, fine artists took a cue from the world’s expanding appreciation for the internationally accepted breakfast food. In 1963, Italian painter and sculptor Lucio Fontana began his important series of, Concetto spaziale, La Fine di Dio (1963-64), exploring the endless artistic possibilities achieved in generating perforations through thick layers of paint on an egg-shaped canvas.
Throughout the decade, sculptor Claes Oldenburg took a far more intentional approach to the inclusion of the breakfast food in his wildly expansive ‘seemingly ‘edible oeuvre, with the work ‘Fried Egg in a Pan’, 1961, and ‘Sculpture in the Form of a Fried Egg’, 1966/71. Canadian artist Carole Itter has returned to eggs as a subject matter continuously throughout her career, most notably in 1974 with her Raw Egg Costume, a wacky fusion of sculpture and performance art.
In a contemporary context, Jeff Koons produced a number of pieces within his Celebration series, a body of work that commenced in the 1990s, which utilized eggs as a primary subject matter; from large scale paintings such as ‘Bread with Egg’ and ‘Cracked Egg’ as well as a ‘Cracked Egg’ sculpture and ‘Baroque Egg with Bow’.
Similarly, Swiss artist Urs Fischer has depicted a variety of egg preparations within his work, from painted fried egg sculptures made of resin, to realistically rendered cracked hardboiled eggs and miniature cast bronze sculptures with the featured egg left intact. In addition, Fischer devoted an entire series of “Problem Paintings” in 2013 to hardboiled eggs on headshots, a robust and stimulating body of work; a true feast for the eyes and one’s appetite.
The presence of eggs held esteemed significance within the work of Salvador Dali. Symbolizing rebirth, eggs stood as an emblem of purity and perfection to the Spanish surrealist, so much so that the late artist included them as the focal point of countless paintings and scattered them over the roofs of both his home and museum. The Dali Theater and Museum in Figueres, Spain, bears a robust egg-scattered crown, while the artist’s home in Cadaques on the Costa Brava, where Dali lived and worked from 1930-1982, has a handful of perfectly intact oval objects strewn atop its roof.
Regardless of one’s dietary preferences, there are certainly enough egg-centric objects around for even the pickiest of eaters.