Meret Oppenheim

Meret Oppenheim (6 October 1913, Berlin — 15 November 1985, Basel) was a German-born Swiss, Surrealist artist, and photographer. Oppenheim was a member of the Surrealist movement of the 1920s along with André Breton, Luis Buñuel, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, and other writers and visual artists. Besides creating art objects, Oppenheim also famously appeared as a model for photographs by Man Ray, most notably a series of nude shots of her interacting with a printing press. Having been raised in Switzerland and South Germany, Oppenheim traveled at the age of 18 to Paris and enrolled at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. After meeting Alberto Giacometti, Jean Arp, and Man Ray, she became absorbed in Surrealism and was invited by Giacometti and Arp to exhibit with the Surrealists in 1933. She continued to contribute to their exhibitions until 1960. Many of her pieces consisted of everyday objects arranged as such that they allude to female sexuality and feminine exploitation by the opposite sex. Oppenheim’s paintings focused on the same themes. Her originality and audacity established her as a leading figure in the surrealist movement. Oppenheim's best known piece is Object (Le Déjeuner en fourrure) (1936). The sculpture consists of a teacup, saucer and spoon that the artist covered with fur from a Chinese gazelle. It is displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Oppenheim is also often credited with coining the phrase " Nobody will give you freedom, you have to take it. " She would later present this first Cahier d'une Ecoliere to the Surrealist leader, Andre Breton. She arrived in Paris in May 1932. Soon bored by the academic routine of the academy, she began to spend her days in galleries and cafes, writing her first poems in the Cafe du Dome where she met Giacometti in 1933. Through him she met Sophie Taeuber and Hans Arp, Kurt Seligmann and Max Ernst. Giacometti and Arp became her first artistic mentors; Ernst and Man Ray her intimate companions. Giacometti and Arp invited her to exhibit with them at the Salon des Surindependents in 1933; after that she attended Surrealist meetings and gatherings, increasingly identifying her life and her art with the movement. Her youth and beauty, her free spirit and uninhibited behaviour, her precarious walks on the ledges of high buildings, and the "surrealist" food she concocted from marzipan in her studio, all contributed to the creation of an image od the Surrealistic woman as beautiful, independent, and creative. Her full-lined teacup, exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1937 by Alfred H. Barr Jr., was chosen by visitors to the exhibition of fantastic furniture with Leonor Fini, Max Ernst, and others at the Galerie Rene Druin and Leo Castelli in Paris. It was on this occasion that she presented some of her designs including her notorious table with the bird claw feet