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Over the course of her protean career, Meret Oppenheim produced witty, unconventional bodies of work that defy neat categorizations of medium, style and subject matter. “Nobody will give you freedom,” she stated in 1975, “you have to take it.” Her freewheeling, subversively humorous approach modeled a dynamic artistic practice in constant flux, yet held together by the singularity and force of her creative vision.
Published in conjunction with the first ever major transatlantic Meret Oppenheim retrospective, and the first in the United States in over 25 years, this publication surveys work from the radically open Swiss artist’s precocious debut in 1930s Paris, the period during which her notorious fur-lined Object in MoMA’s collection was made, through her post–World War II artistic development, which included engagements with international Pop, Nouveau Réalisme and Conceptual art, and up to her death in 1985. Essays by curators from the Kunstmuseum Bern, the Menil Collection and the Museum of Modern Art critically examine the artist’s wide-ranging, wildly imaginative body of work, and her active role in shaping the narrative of her life and art, providing the context for her creative production pre– and post–World War II.
Meret Oppenheim was born in 1913 and lived in Germany and Switzerland during her childhood. At the age of 18, she moved to Paris to study art, and there exhibited alongside members of the Surrealist group. Oppenheim returned to Switzerland in 1937, where she trained as a conservator at the Basel School of Design. Already a storied member of the pre–World War II avant-garde, in the last two prolific decades of her life she was embraced by a younger generation of artists for her conceptual approach to art and progressive views on gender. Oppenheim died in 1985.