Above the Trees
An exhibition marking the 100th birthday of Meret Oppenheim (1913 – 1985) will be the very first museum showing in Germany to concentrate on the artist’s drawn oeuvre and, in so doing, will take the visitor into the very heart of her world of ideas, a world that had its roots in Surrealism. Showing around 60 works from the period between 1936 and 1984, the exhibition affords visitors an unprecedented opportunity to familiarize themselves with the work of one of the 20th century’s most impressive artists, an artist whose non-conformist and liberal attitude made her a guiding figure among the younger generation of the 1970s.
The presentation is chronological and focuses on the fundamental content of the artist’s work, including her themes of eroticism and androgyny and her relation to nature and the unconscious. Clearly arranged groups of works enable visitors to find their bearings amidst a complex of styles and give them an insight into the artist’s various areas of creative activity, such as fashion design, book illustration, nature study and experiments in printing, the main point of emphasis being her picturesquely composed abstract drawings, in which the artist developed new forms and symbols for life processes and natural phenomena.
The exhibited original works will be accompanied by various historical documents, including photographs and publications, which will not only help visitors to visualize even more clearly the impressive calibre of this artist but also furnish information on further artistic actions and works realized in the public space. Works on paper by other artists from her milieu (Many Ray, Hans Arp, Max Ernst, C.F. Reuterswärd, to name only a few) will enable visitors to form a picture of the art-historical context of that period.
An audio station will familiarize visitors with Oppenheim’s poems, recited by the artist herself. Also on display will be various publications of her texts.
Born in Berlin in 1913, this German-Swiss artist lived in Paris from 1933, where she had close connections with such artists as Hans Arp, Max Ernst and Alberto Giacometti within the circle of Surrealists around André Breton. From 1937 she lived in various places in Switzerland. During the 1960s she belonged to the young Swiss art scene around Daniel Spoerri in Berne; from 1972 she worked in her own studio in Paris. In 1975 she was awarded the Art Prize of the City of Basle, when she took the opportunity to deliver a lecture on the specific situation of the “female artist”. During the 1980s she took part in Documenta 7 in Kassel and retrospective exhibitions of her work took place in Berne, Paris and London. Meret Oppenheim died in Basle in 1985.
The exhibition will be accompanied by an introductory soft-backed catalogue and a comprehensive information programme.