Over the course of the past hundred years or so, as sculpture has increasingly come to signify objecthood as much as carved or modeled form, Meret Oppenheim (1913-1985) stands out retrospectively as one of the twentieth century's most influential artists. Oppenheim has also long been an icon to feminist artists and art historians, in her self-transformation from "muse" of Man Ray to leading Surrealist, and her fearless insistence on her right to creativity throughout her life. Her fur teacup, titled "Breakfast in Fur" (1936) was inspired by a conversation between Oppenheim and Picasso at a Paris caf ; admiring a fur-covered bracelet she was wearing, Picasso remarked that one could cover anything with fur, to which she replied, "Even this cup and saucer." Today this work, the definitive Surrealist Object, seems to articulate and inaugurate a whole tradition of its own, in a psychosexual-sculptural vocabulary that has been developed by artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Eva Hesse. Oppenheim's oeuvre, ranging freely across sculpture, painting, design and poetry, shows preoccupations not only with gender-inflected objects and gender roles, but also with Surrealism's enduring concerns-dream, myth, imagination, games. Published for the centenary of her birth, this generous retrospective illuminates Oppenheim's work in all genres, tracing its influence on later generations of artists and exploring her importance as a precursor of feminism.
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