Duncan Phillips was one of the first collectors in the United States to appreciate John Graham’s talent. From about 1927 to early 1930, Phillips granted Graham a $200 stipend in exchange for his choice of paintings, and in 1929 Phillips gave Graham his first one-person exhibition.
In 1929, Phillips purchased Two Eggs, painted in 1928. It was among the first works that Phillips collected of Graham’s, and it appealed to his aesthetic sensibility.Two Eggs reflects Graham’s minimalistic style of that period, which David Burliuk referred to as “purely realistic—the subject being the painting itself. Graham’s art had passed through many stages and influences (only weak characters are afraid of influences).” Graham began to paint eggs, he wrote, because “the very austerity of color and shape makes them a fascinating subject.”
Graham referred to his art as minimalism because he was simply trying to re-create an object. In Graham’s inaugural exhibition at The Phillips Collection in 1929, Phillips wrote in the catalogue: “Graham never interprets his pictures… There are threats of a new school of ‘Minimalism’ whatever that may mean. The Egg picture in the present exhibition (Two Eggs) is perhaps an example.”