Meret Oppenheim – by jane davila

Subtitled – “things are not what they seem…”

oppenheim-nurse.jpgThe Nurse, Meret Oppenheim

I came across this artist’s work today and love the purposeful creation of the double take in her work. According to the book I was reading about this particular piece, The 20th Century Art Book:

Fetishistic and bizarre, this work suggests bondage and sexual domination. Using real found objects, the artist has removed the dimension of craft and apparent artistry from this sculpture, thereby rendering it disturbingly realistic and subversive. The unusual juxtaposition of objects is typical of Surrealism. One of the female Surrealists, Oppenheim often alludes in her paintings and sculptures to the experience of being a woman, investigating, as in this work, the fine line between female sexuality and being the object of male desire. Oppenheim specializes in unnerving imagery.

Her most iconic work, Object, is a fur-covered teacup, saucer and spoon. It’s definitely unnerving.


This table really appeals to me, with its combination of the functional and the fanciful.

oppenheim-table-with-bird-legs.jpgTable with Bird Legs, Meret Oppenheim

oppenheim-xray.jpgXray, Meret Oppenheim

Great self-portrait!

5 Responses to “Meret Oppenheim – by jane davila”

  1. 1 eleni February 7, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Does anyone know if Meret’s Bird leg table is available for purchase? I love this
    piece and it looks like it might have been reproduced in 1983?


  2. 2 terrygrant November 19, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    Just this week, on the QuiltArt list, Pamela Allen said that according to her husband the painter, “surprise” is an essential element in art. What stunning examples of visual surprise!

    The fur-covered teacup is something I have a hard time looking at. It immediately gets my gag reflex in gear. As a child I had a recurring dream that I was eating a sandwich and when I pulled up the top layer of bread to discover what I was eating I found a piece of fur or a wad of hair inside. I would wake up gagging. I told my Dad about the dream once and he confessed that his icky childhood dream was a sandwich with a big black feather inside. I’m pretty sure that furry teacup is somebody’s nasty dream!

  3. 3 gabrielleswain November 15, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    Jane,Thanks for introducing me to this amazing woman. Even more exciting was while researching Oppenheim, I discovered that Lenora
    Carrington is still alive and still living in Mexico. Oppenheim’s life is especially inspiring when you learn about her “fallow” period in which she questioned the validity of her work because of such early fame.

  4. 4 Jane Davila November 15, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    The furry teacup piece has an interetsing story behind it. I found this on (

    “Although this work has since come to symbolize for many the Surrealist concept of “fortuitous juxtaposition,” it was created by Oppenheim as the result of a conversation she had with Picasso and Dora Maar. One day, over a cup of tea at the Café de Flore, Picasso, observing the bracelet she had fashioned by wrapping wire with fur, joked that practically anything could be covered with fur. This observation led all three to point to objects that could be wrapped and Oppenheim pointed to her teacup. Several weeks later, Andre Breton asked her to contribute to the forthcoming Surrealist exhibition and, after a trip to the local discount supermarket, Oppenheim produced her now famous object.”

  5. 5 June November 14, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    Jane, these are great. I did do a triple/quadruple-take on the first image. I had seen the cup and saucer, of course, but had never seen other things she did. How marvelous they are. I’m agog. And we could even classify her as a textile artist, given the materials you can see in the first image.

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