There’s a reason that Faberge eggs have taken on such weighty cultural
significance. The stunningly intricate creations, presented to the Russian Imperial
family each Easter, were nothing short of magnificent; beautiful and dripping in
precious stones, they grew increasingly more decadent and inventive each
year. But long after the death of Carl Faberge himself and the Romanovs’
spectacular fall from grace, the eggs have remained objects of fascination,
passed among the elite and the theiving alike for centuries. (There’s a reason
they’re the subject of so many spy movies–the truth, in the case of the
eggs, is stranger than fiction.)
It was this imperious, fantastical legacy that inspired artist Jonathan Monaghan to take a crack at the eggs in “After Faberge,” a collection of five prints that presents a contemporary take on the classic symbols of luxury.
“In my work, I frequently appropriate symbols from culture and reimagine them in
humorous ways,” Monaghan says. “The eggs are meant to be a little funny and
absurd, but there’s a more serious narrative there, too, about the future and our
underlying fears about technology.”
Photorealistic though they are, the eggs are entirely virtual, created using
computer animation software and assembled into flat prints using 3D imaging.
Unlike the historical objects they emulate, he says, “these eggs don’t exist.”
Instead, they comprise only inventively synthesized images of familiar objects, like USBs, furniture, satellites and more–all, he says, “in place of where the gold and filigree designs of the eggs are,” making a statement about the increased value of technology in our society.
Though Monaghan created his prints before the BMA exhibit was planned, he says it
was a dream of his to exhibit his work alongside the Faberge eggs themselves.
“I always thought about how cool it would be to exhibit the prints with [the eggs],” he
says. “When you walk out of the main exhibition with all the jeweled dynasty eggs, you can see one of my prints on the wall. It’s awesome.”
See Monaghan discuss his pieces Jan. 4 from 6:30-7:15 p.m. at the Walters.