We are happy to present the second gallery show with Meret Oppenheim entitled Poesie.
At the age of only 17, Meret Oppenheim (*1913 Berlin †1985 Basel) wondered, if mathematical equations had roots, where then the rabbits are – and collaged X=Hase (X=rabbit) into her exercise book. The artist’s entire work and thinking bespeak an independence and resistance that go against all logic as well as academic and social norms. Oppenheim’s oeuvre is symbolic of the mysterious, the hidden, the unconscious and the unexpected, offering an astonishment that is driven by curiosity.
Oppenheim’s search for an autonomous identity and unrestricted artistic expression was based on a ravenous desire for freedom. A desire which caused her to break with the surrealistic circle in Paris in the 1930s, celebrating her first big success, the “fur cup” (Le déjeuner en fourrure), a key work amongst the surrealistic objet trouvé. Having been categorized as a muse and cut back in her creative spirit, the artist faced a yearlong creative crisis, that she would only be able to overcome by the 1950s in the lively and creative climate of Bern among like-minded fellow artists like Daniel Spoerri and Dieter Roth.
Oppenheim never wanted to be restricted to an identity, style or medium in any way.
Her cross-genre and materialistically diverse works testify to an imaginative, poetic and ironic interplay of free and applied arts, such as jewelry, fashion and furniture designs. The work Buchumschlag/ book cover (1933) which is part of the show is a double-sided watercolor on a wooden pedestal. It illustrates the circle, flow and connectedness of life on the front side as opposed to the feeling of oppression being a target of social expectations on the back side. The search for freedom and resistance to every stylistic, academic and social norm permeates Oppenheim’s entire thinking and production.
Oppenheim received her first major retrospective in Stockholm, followed by exhibitions in Solothurn, Winterthur and Duisburg in 1974/75, the Art Award of the City of Berlin in 1982 and her participation at the documenta 7. In 2013, a further retrospective at the Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien in Vienna, Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin and Lille Métropole musée d'art moderne, d'art contemporain et d'art brut in Villeneuve d'Ascq took place.
In 2021/22 another comprehensive retrospective will honor Meret Oppenheim’s artistic work, starting at the Kunstmuseum Bern moving to the Menil Collection, Houston and ending at the MoMA, New York.
Text: Marleen Linke