Egg Whites

Henry Van De Velde, Poster for Tropon, 1892-93: “Tropon est l’Aliment le plus concentre”

OK, so here is how intuitive reasoning works to your detriment: What IS “the most concentrated foodstuff?” I thought it must be either honey or oil, thus my confusion with Toorop’s poster for Delftsche Peanut Oil. The people who brought you Tropon believed it was concentrated egg white proteins.

I have always considered this THE textbook example of early Art Nouveau, as it not only stresses Van De Velde’s background as a fine artist transitioning to a shaper of “total environments,” there is something childlike and obsessive about it as well. Notice that he begins with a tight, gridded, geometricizing approach in the upper left corner but once you get past this “anchor zone” all hell breaks loose and there’s not a right angle to be found in the rest of the composition. As for REPRESENTATION, I had supposed for years those were egrets or some kind of bird in the center…they are egg yolks being separated from the whites which are pooling at the bottom!

Imagine a career of 70 years…that was Van De Velde, who started with his own home (“Bloemenwoerf”) in 1892 and was intended to be the first director of the Bauhaus when World War I interrupted those plans and sent the Belgian Van De Velde packing. One of his most important interviews about this era was given in 1962!