Birth: Oct. 6, 1913
Death: Nov. 15, 1985
Nationality: German, Swiss
Oppenheim was born in Berlin to a German Jew doctor and his Swiss wife a short time before the start of WWI. Oppenheim and her mother moved to Switzerland and lived with Oppenheim’s grandfather and grandmother, acclaimed artist and children’s book author, Lisa Wenger nee Ruutz. While in her teens Oppenheim was exposed to the work of one of her father’s friend psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and theorist Carl Jung as well as the artwork of Paul Klee. She moved to Paris at 18, attended an art school in the Montparnasse district, and within a few years had her first solo show in 1936 which is also the time period that she sold what is likely her most famous piece The Luncheon in Fur for $50.00 to the Museum of Modern Art. For well over a decade, until approximately 1954, Oppenheim created few pieces that survived her own art practice however, she remained in contact with the creative community. She posed for photographers, most notably Man Ray, at various points throughout her career and eventually maintained two studios in Switzerland and 1 in Paris. In the mid 1970’s Oppenheim became somewhat of a feminist icon. In the acceptance speech for the City of Basel Art Prize she received in 1975, Oppenheim famously stated, “Freedom is not given to you — you have to take it.”
Some of her notable work includes: Object/The Luncheon in Fur (1936) and Spring Banquet/ Cannibal Feast created in 1959. Ma Gouvernante/My Nurse was created in 1936 and is currently housed at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden. It is pictured below and was manipulated for the header image.
For more information on Meret Oppenheim or her work visit: