A Major Survey on Swiss Surrealist Meret Oppenheim Is Coming to MoMA—Take a Sneak Peek Here

Aug 13, 2021

The first U.S. survey in 25 years for the Surrealist artist Meret Oppenheim is coming to New York’s Museum of Modern Art next fall.

“Meret Oppenheim: My Exhibition” will feature more than 180 works by the Swiss-German artist, including paintings, drawings, collages, and sculptures. The show is on view at the Kunstmuseum Bern October 22, 2021 through February 13, 2022, and following the presentation in Bern, the show makes its American debut at the Menil Collection, where it will be on view from March 25 through September 18, 2022. Following the Menil presentation, it will be on view at MoMA in October 2022.

Though best known for her 1936 work Object (Objet), the artist’s oeuvre extends well beyond furry flatware. In painting, drawing, and mixed media collage, Oppenheim tapped into her interest in psychoanalysis and a knack for subverting convention to humorous and disturbing ends.

Meret Oppenheim, Glove (for Parkett no. 4) (1985). Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.

Oppenheim’s fascination with the body is also apparent in works like Bees Knees—a sterling silver platter with a pair of white women’s pumps bound together at the heels, which end in paper frills, like a bondage-inspired Norman Rockwell turkey dish. Oppenheim was also fascinated by hands and gloves, and many of her objets d’art used the garment in some way, with hand-painted and embroidered veins splayed on top of a pair of white leather gloves or a pair of hands ensconced in hirsute coverings from which red-painted nails poke out, like the extremities of a female werewolf in Pelzhandschuhe, 1936.

The artist was also a muse and model for her peers, most notably in Erotique Voilée a photographic series by Man Ray that placed a nude Oppenheim next to a printing press with one arm and hand covered in sticky dark paint. The lithe nude woman juxtaposed next to the large wheel with its iron spokes and phallic wooden handle creates a tableaux ripe for analysis.

Below, see some of Oppenheim’s most famous works.

Meret Oppenheim, Octavia (Oktavia) (1969). Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.

Meret Oppenheim, Stone Woman (Steinfrau) (1938). Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.

Meret Oppenheim, New Stars (Neue Sterne) (1977–82). Kunstmuseum Bern. Meret Oppenheim Bequest. Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.

Meret Oppenheim, X-Ray of M.O.’s Skull (Röntgenaufnahme des Schädels M.O.). (1964/1981). Hermann and Margrit Rupf Foundation. Kunstmuseum Bern. Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.