Meret Oppenheim – Play as Artistic Strategy

“Freedom is not given to you, you have to seize it.”
Meret Oppenheim

Meret Oppenheim, 1985

Meret Oppenheim, 1985

Meret Oppenheim went from being viewed as a scandalous muse of surrealism to a major artist of the movement. She was born in Berlin in 1913. At the age of 19 she moved to Paris to study art where she was introduced to the surrealist circle by Hans Arp. One year later she started exhibiting with them.

Meret Oppenheim, 1985

Meret Oppenheim, Fur bracelet, 1936

She would have turned 100 years last year (she died in Paris in 1985). A retrospective is showing her amazingly diverse art works in Museum LaM in France till 1 June 2014 .

Merret Oppenheim - X-Ray of M.O.'s skull (1913-2000), 1964

Meret Oppenheim – X-Ray of M.O.’s skull (1913-2000), 1964

One of the themes in the exhibition which I especially enjoyed is ‘Play as Artistic Strategy’. Play is omnipresent in Oppenheim’s work which she shares with the avant-garde movements, such as Dada and surrealism in particular, in an attempt to overturn traditional conceptions of art.

Meret Oppenheim - Genevieve's Mirror, 1967

Meret Oppenheim – Genevieve’s Mirror, 1967

In the exhibition you can see examples of the collective game of ‘Cadavre exquis’: the players write or draw on a sheet of paper one after the other, folding the paper after each turn so as to conceal previous contributions. Oppenheim also practised this game with found objects (anything interesting but no longer than 40 cm). The ‘objets trouvés’ were assembled into fantastical hybrid creatures with the help of her friends. Looking at these playful works just made me want to go out and do the same.

Meret Oppenheim - The King Has Fallen into Relativity, 1971, Cadavre exquis, in collaboration with Anna Boeti and Roberto Lupo

Meret Oppenheim – The King Has Fallen into Relativity, 1971, Cadavre exquis, in collaboration with Anna Boeti and Roberto Lupo

In the case of Meret Oppenheim, inspiration comes from dreams, nature, the invisible, poems, eroticism, the everyday, Jung, … everything really. Through her art, an incredible complex and creative personality is rendered visible. A great discovery!

Meret Oppenheim - Spiral-Snake in Rectangle, 1973

Meret Oppenheim – Spiral-Snake in Rectangle, 1973

Pictures in this post are from the excellent catalogue with lots of information on her art and lifetime.

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