Beyond chocolate: The egg in art and design

17 Apr

Humpty Dumpty

... sat on a wall until he "had a great fall," as everyone who has ever heard the popular nursery rhyme knows. But this poor fellow is never explicitly called an egg. However, in British author Lewis Carroll's 1871 book "Through the Looking-Glass" (above), Alice marvels at "how exactly like an egg he is." In fact, he has popped up in numerous works of literature described as looking like an egg.

Faberge egg

Intricate, made of gold, enamel and precious and semi-precious stones, Faberge eggs were a luxurious gift indeed. The most famous are the 50 so-called Imperial eggs the Russian jeweler Peter Carl Faberge made for the Romanov Czars as Easter presents for their wives and mothers. The royal valuables are almost exclusively showcased in collections and museums worldwide.

'Cracked Egg' by Jeff Koons

A raw egg is the epitome of fragility, but in the above sculpture by US artist Jeff Koons, it is made of hard, shiny stainless steel, coated on the outside in a brilliant magenta. This particular "Cracked Egg" is one of five tall egg sculptures in different stark colors, created between 1994 and 2006 and described by Koons as a "symbol of birth."

Egg emoji

Same egg, different shape: The frying pan with a sunny-side up egg is a popular emoji. The ideograms that first showed up on Japanese mobiles in the late 90s have conquered messaging around the world. Far from the mundane egg, the "Face with Tears of Joy" emoji was named Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries in 2015. Along with the above pan, it is one of more than 2,000 that people use.

'The Last Judgment' by Hieronymus Bosch

Hieronymus Bosch, a 15th and early 16th century Dutch painter, is known for his nightmarish illustrations. The central panel of the triptych "The Last Judgment" shows hellish creatures mercilessly punishing the damned, among them a monster with a head and legs stuck in an egg pierced by a spear. Art lovers can purchase the "egg monster" online in the form of a "hand-painted resin" figurine.

'Metamorphosis of Narcissus' by Salvador Dali

Note the egg-shaped object in Salvador Dali's "Metamorphosis of Narcissus." The surrealist artist's 1937 oil painting looks at the Greek myth of Narcissus about a beautiful man who is engrossed in his own reflection in a pool. This narrative is barely visible in the painting; instead it shows Narcissus' mirrored transformation into a huge hand holding a egg from which a narcissus flower springs.

Dali Theater-Museum

Large white egg-shaped objects perch on top of the Dali Theater-Museum in the Spanish town of Figueres. The museum is filled with Dali's paintings, drawings, sculptures, engravings, installations, holograms, stereoscopes and photos. Dali himself designed it to be "a great surrealist object ... the people who come to see it will leave with the sensation of having had a theatrical dream."

Egg Chair

In 1958 Arne Jacobsen created the Egg Chair for the lobby of the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. The Danish architect and designer was in fact responsible for the entire the new hotel, from its architecture to its interior design. Simple, effective, with an almost sculpted look, the inviting egg-shaped lounge chair is a design classic that has inspired countless furniture designers.


Author Dagmar Breitenbach

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