David Shrigley's Easter Eggs
News / Art World

David Shrigley's Easter Eggs

29 Mar 2021

Happy Easter from all of us at Hang-Up! To celebrate, and in honour of our new, hand-picked selection of David Shrigley’s work, we thought we’d talk about the artist’s fascination with the humble egg – perhaps significant enough to be labelled an ‘oeuf-vre’?

Two Untitled originals by David Shrigley from his 2020 series of Lockdown Drawings
Two Untitled originals by David Shrigley from his 2020 series of Lockdown Drawings

Two Untitled originals by David Shrigley from his 2020 series of Lockdown Drawings

Stephen Friedman Gallery

During a 2012 retrospective at London’s Hayward Gallery, Shrigley displayed a colony of outsized earthenware eggs on high shelves. En masse, they were especially impressive – a kind of mini food version of the Terracotta Warriors, united in their uniform look and the text (egg) painted onto their surfaces.

Egg by David Shrigley, 2018

Egg by David Shrigley, 2018

The eggs were among the most popular exhibits with good reason: they provide excellent fodder for an absurdist such as Shrigley and his fans. Their provenance is amusing, and there’s even something intrinsically funny about the word ‘egg’ (especially when writ large on the objects themselves). In an interview with ArtFlyer, Shrigley was quoted as saying:

"An egg is a very primal thing; it is where life comes from. For me there is some sort of, maybe, slippage of the word and the object. I am interested in that odd relationship."

Eggs by David Shrigley, on display at Stephen Friedman Gallery, 2011

Eggs by David Shrigley, on display at Stephen Friedman Gallery, 2011

Stephen Friedman Gallery

Despite this professed reverence for their beginnings, the artist’s first known egg-work is of a destructive nature. Back in 1999, Shrigley created a canvas entitled Untitled (Stamp On The Eggs), in which a scary character in knee-high boots tramples eggs underfoot before they have the chance to hatch. If you think that’s disturbing, try listening to the artist’s musical interpretation of the theme, a 2008 electro track entitled (you guessed it) Eggs, with a stalker-esque female vocal which culminates by suggesting the narrator lay her eggs in the object of her affection. Note: this one probably isn’t suitable for the family Easter celebrations.

Since then, eggs have been a recurring theme in Shrigley’s work – a smattering of drawings have played on both the word and the objects, including two black and white 2019 pieces featuring humpty dumpty and some egg-headed men labelled ‘oafs’. Meanwhile, in 2018, Shrigley expressed some distress at the hen’s role in all of this, depicting a red chicken taunted by several speech bubbles demanding that it ‘lay an egg’. The hen’s response? 'Go To Hell'.

Lay An Egg by David Shrigley, 2018

Lay An Egg by David Shrigley, 2018

"Comedy for me to some extent is humility, where you accept that the things I am saying maybe they are important, maybe they are not."

David Shrigley

With all this in mind, it comes as no surprise that eggs featured on one of the artist’s largest works to date, the granite sculpture Memorial, which was first unveiled in New York’s Central Park in 2016. A commemoration of the every day, it’s inscribed with the items you might find on anybody’s shopping list – with his favourite foodstuff fifth on the list, between bread and mayonnaise.

Find out more about David Shrigley in our ‘5 Things You Should Know’ article, or alternatively get in touch with us here.

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