Meret Oppenheim: für dich – wider dich at Design Museum Den Bosch

Man Ray Erotique Voilee (Portrait of Meret Oppenhaim)1933
© Pictoright Amsterdam 2021-2

16th March – 5th September.

Meret Oppenheim (1913-1985) was a surrealist who did not want to be called a surrealist. A feminist who did not like “women’s art”. World famous but tormented by its fame. In the exhibition Meret Oppenheim: für dich – wider dich you get to know Oppenheim and her playful and ironic work.

At the age of 18, Oppenheim arrives in Paris, where she joins the group of surrealists around André Breton. Just a few years later she became world famous for her fur-covered cup and saucer (Object, 1936) and the photographs that Man Ray and Dora Maar took of her. She enjoys the attention but also suffers from the pressure of fame; Disillusioned, she withdraws from the art world at the end of the 1930s. It was not until 1954 that she, now brimming with self-confidence, came into the limelight again. Until her death she continues to produce works that explore the boundaries of the visible and the invisible, of reality and fantasy. Meret Oppenheim: für dich – wider dich shows her early surrealist work as well as her later sketches, objects, jewelry, poems and costumes. Design Museum Den Bosch has the largest collection of work by Meret Oppenheim in the Netherlands, supplemented with loans for this exhibition. 

The exhibition

 In the first part of the exhibition you get a picture of Meret Oppenheim through a series of portrait photos and video images in which she reflects on her artistry. You will see the well-known photo series that Man Ray and Dora Maar made of the young Meret, as well as previously unpublished photos of Oppenheim later in life. Subsequently, various themes explain how Meret Oppenheim’s non-conformist character colors her work, and how her search for creative freedom manifests itself in her handling of materials and objects. The unexpected combination of everyday objects and materials often causes an alienating effect in Oppenheim’s work. Her artworks often have a playful and ironic character. 

Art is androgynous! 

Oppenheim’s view that there is no male or female art – art is androgynous – is echoed in much of her work. Women, Oppenheim said, should live lives in which they resist oppression and objectification. At the same time, she fights the idea of ​​”women’s art” and exhibitions where only women’s work can be seen. She sees these initiatives as anti-feminist; she even refuses to participate. Also striking is the way in which Oppenheim pushed the boundaries between art disciplines, design practice and media, and refused to be characterized by a single style. This approach to artistry ties in seamlessly with the multidisciplinary practices of designers and artists of today.