Artist Spotlight: Surrealist Meret Oppenheim

Artist Spotlight: Surrealist Meret Oppenheim

How she transformed the everyday world into the strange.

Meret Oppenheim (1913-1985) was a Surrealist artist who transcended numerous barriers to reach her acclaimed status. Transforming everyday household items into the erotic and bizarre. Seeking to redefine the domestic life of a woman, she approached art with dreaminess, feminism, fetishism, aggression, and dejectedness. Motifs in Oppenheim's work are connected to food, sex, death, cannibalism, and bondage. Her work can get a reaction out of just about anybody.

Losing interest in her native Switzerland, at the tender age of 18 she took to Paris like many aspiring artists did. That was an unparalleled art scene, rich with opportunities and a boundless collection of minds. She would drop out of at the Paris Académie de la Grande Chaumière to advance her career outside the realms of a classroom. Networking was everything in this period. Befriending artists twice her age, she found good company with the likes of Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Hans Arp and Dora Maar.

Rather than display as a solo artist, it was a near necessity to join an established group for a larger pull. The Surrealist group was male only, but Oppenheim's talent and charm would bend the rule in her favor. She would repay them by being a muse and model for their works.

A major artwork features her as the model. Naked with a sensual, commanding pose in Man Ray's photo Erotique Voilée (1933), Oppenheim is inviting the male gaze. Published in the magazine Minotaure, scandal followed and put her on the map as a name to know.

Oppenheim looked to Erotique Voile without any objection, but unease surfaced when it came to having that included in her body of work. Despite entering on the premises of displaying her art, Oppenheim found herself in a role well-known to women: on the other side of a canvas.

Her reputation and vision would be wrapped in a sexualized lust for her by news media and curators alike that she used to her advantage but struggled to balance with her own career. An artistic breakthrough would come, thanks to the bronze high relief sculpture Giacometti's Ear (1933). It was made at the heed of Giacometti, who had encouraged her to make an artwork of him.

Fine art and fashion were seen as mutually exclusive. Oppenheim helped to shatter the barrier. Working for the 1936 Winter collection of the luxury clothier Elsa Schiaparelli, Oppenheim designed gloves. Polished nails, bones, and claws were among the take to each pair. With grey goatskin, she created the illusion of veins, turning the human body inside out and reversing the usage of gloves to conceal the body. Boundary-pushing, its sleek look was an immediate hit. The duo would team up again, with Oppenheim finding more work creating fur-covered pieces.

Even a meet up at a Paris cafe could turn into wonder works, especially in the company of Picasso and Maar. Picasso took interest in Oppenheim's fur-covered bracelet before making a quip comment that anything could be covered in fur. Brief, but impactful to Oppenheim who viewed the world with openness and imagination.

After being invited to participate in the Surrealist's first object displays, Oppenheim purchased a teacup, saucer, and spoon from a department store. She then covered them with Chinese gazelle fur. Entitled Le Déjeuner en fourrure or Object (1936), this would be her entry.

Everyday objects people mostly do not devote notice to, Oppenheim primed as her newest canvas. It draws notice to what they mean in the context of women. Its bizarreness grants a second look and new function. Making the civilized world look back on the primitive and animalistic, Object rejects the holder traditionally getting a taste. Anchored to this piece are interpretations of patriarchy.

Oppenheim would become the first woman featured in The Museum of Modern Art thanks to Object. Coined First Lady of MoMA, she reached the heights of her mentor Marcel Duchamp. Alfred Barr ensured Object had a starring role in the major 1936-37 show "Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism." Its coarse coat has remained a source of reference to modern art's timeline and Oppenheim's best-known work made at just 22 years old.

A creative crisis would shake her the following year, which art critics have tied to the hastened amassed fame she struggled to contend and surpass. It would not be until 1954 when she resumed work in the costume, jewelry and furniture sectors. From then on to her passing in 1985, Oppenheim continued to make her conceptualization tangible.

Today, she has made her mark and been subject to numerous spin-offs, discussions, and curations. Recalling her ventures as a female artist after years of personal crises and creative roadblocks, she stated in 1975, “Freedom is not given to you, you have to seize it.”

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It's only in our Darkness, that we see ourselves shine.

Those who fear the darkness have no idea what they can do.

When I look back... on the life I’ve had... I can honestly say, "I have lived"...
Rage has rocked my very core, Love has touched my soul, I’ve been lost and I’ve been found.
Faced my fear, and cried till dawn. I’ve rushed on the passion of life.
Both given and taken of life. Listened to the preaching’s of all, while looking for mine...
I’ve cried at the voices only heard in the silence... felt shivers in my soul while looking into the abyss.
Hung my head low, and held it high... I’ve run, and I’ve fought countless meaniless battles, of heart, flesh and soul.
I’ve frolicked in the mist with my demons, and felt the touch of angels.
I’ve spent years in prisons of mind and men. I’ve played the many hands life has had to offer...
It was never about win or lose; it was how I played the hand...
My dreams are all the same... to walk alone in the nightmares and smile...
Not all my lessons were learnt in the darkness, and the light... not always true.
My scars, tell not stories of my life, or the battles fought, but whisper my fears...
Though... I long for the for the love only my soul can feel, to float in a dream above my sorrow.
Some days there is no difference between what’s real and what’s not, and I don’t judge or care...
My soul is old, beneath my flesh. My mind a child. My heart just an echo in the tunnels of time...
All I really know... is my darkness, the kindest friend I’ve ever known...
Now I sit and ponder... do I want to go another round...?
How many more songs have I got left to sing ... and who cares to hear what I have to say.
When tears roll down my cheeks, it’s only the darkness weeping, that I might go.
I am no fool, a joker, a sinner, never a saint.
But I will take this time to heal my battered soul.
To prepare for battle, one more fight...
Not for victory or glory... vanity was never my flaw...
But I think... just to befriend the light as I did my darkness...
For the light has always been cold, twisted, filled with lies and deceit.
For without knowing the light, one can never truly know the darkness. 


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20 Disney Channel Original Movies That You HAD To See As Soon As It Came Out

You know you still have a soft spot for #11.

My friends and I were having a movie night and like many other movie nights before we couldn't decide on what we should watch. We scrolled through Netflix for what seemed like forever until I remembered that I had some Disney Channel Original Movies through an app my Dad set up. This opened up a whole new ball game because we all grew up watching these movies. I got to the app and started looking at all of them.

My friends and I were reminiscing about the movies we had seen when we were younger.

To people that may not know, a Disney Channel Original Movie (or DCOM for short), is a movie that was aired on Disney Channel and was not ever in a theater. Here is a list of the top DCOMs.

1. "Double Teamed" (2002)

Who doesn't love twin girl athletes originally wanting to do different things but both ending up playing basketball?

2. "Right On Track" (2003)

A sister movie where they are trying to be better than each other at racing. There's nothing wrong with some sibling competition is there?

3. "Quints" (2000)

After this movie, I was definitely glad I didn't have any younger siblings, especially not five.

4. "Cadet Kelly" (2002)

Cadet Kelly wanted me to join a military school; however, I know I definitely wouldn't have survived.

5. "Pixel Perfect" (2004)

Making a robot girl that is practically perfect? Yes, please! This movie also inspired me to want to learn how to do a one-handed cartwheel, which I did.

6. "The Cheetah Girls" (2003)

Every young girl and her friends would sing along to these songs and pretend to be them. And let's be real, the other two weren't as amazing as the first, especially after Raven, left.

7. "The Zenon Trilogy" (1999, 2001 & 2004)

Who didn't want to live in space after watching these movies?

8. "You Wish!" (2003)

I definitely know I wanted to wish on a lucky coin that I didn't have any siblings, but after this movie, I'm very glad I never did in case it actually came true.

9. "Starstruck" (2010)

It's every girl's dream to fall in love with a dreamy poster, and the song "Something About the Sunshine" is so catchy, and I have it on a Spotify playlist and have no regrets about jamming to it in the car.

10. "Twitches/Twitches Too" (2005 & 2007)

I definitely wanted a twin that was also a witch after watches these movies.

11. "High School Musical 1 and 2" (2006 & 2007)

These don't need explaining. If you haven't seen them or at least heard about them, then you probably live under a rock. I just wish high school was really like this. Also, "High School Musical 3" was also amazing but did not make the list because it was technically not a DCOM since it was released in theaters.

12. "Lemonade Mouth" (2011)

This one is pretty new, but it made me want to get detention to potentially meet my future bandmates even though I have no musical abilities.

13. "Gotta Kick It Up!" (2002)

If this movie didn't have you shouting "Si se Puede!" then you didn't appreciate it enough.

14. "Get A Clue" (2002)

This made me want to be a spy more than I already wanted to be one as a child. Solving crimes with your best friends sounded like a very great time.

15. "Smart House" (1999)

Winning a house that could talk to you and listen to what you told it? Seems like a dream come true, until the house gets a little too attached.

16. "Eddie's Million Dollar Cook-Off" (2003)

Baseball or cooking? Waiting to see what Eddie chose was a nail-biter.

17. "Camp Rock 1 & 2" (2008 & 2010)

A movie with songs that made you get up and dance and want to go to summer camp.

18. "Descendants 1 & 2" (2015 & 2017)

These movies are really new so, not many people that are over the age of 10 have heard of them, but I thoroughly enjoyed them. They have really catchy songs even if they are pretty cheesy.

19. "Jump In!" (2007)

Who doesn't love Corbin Bleu jumping rope?

20. "Stuck In The Suburbs" (2004)

Another movie where a teenager gets befriends a dreamy pop star. Come on why couldn't that happen in real life? I'd totally be down to be best friends with Justin Bieber. DCOMs will always have a special place in my heart.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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