MERET OPPENHEIM — My Exhibition

Intro

My Exhibition 22.10.21–13.2.22

Meret Oppenheim’s (1913-1985) first retrospective is held in the Moderna Museet Stockholm in 1967. By this point the artist can already look back on 30 years of constant work. With “Ma gouvernante – my nurse – mein Kindermädchen” and other works she created icons of Surrealism.

“I suggested to C.F. Reuterswärd that rather than ‘Portrait’ he use an x-ray of my skull, with big ear-rings, neck and hand, also with necklace and ring. C.F.R. liked it a lot, shall I send it?”

Meret Oppenheim, 1967 Letter to Mette Prawitz, Moderna Museet Stockholm, 18.1.1967, Archive Moderna Museet

It’s a paradoxical situation: the museum does not accept the suggestion and instead uses a nude photo of her. In the photo the 54-year-old is 20 years old. The cover of the catalogue also features not a work by Oppenheim but a design by the artist C.F. Reuterswärd. At this moment of her greatest success so far she understands that she will have to manage her public image as an artist herself.

“Röntgenaufnahme des Schädels M.O.” (X-ray of M.O.'s Skull), 1964/1981, silver gelatine print, 40,5 × 30,5 cm, edition: 6/20, Hermann und Margrit Rupf-Stiftung, Kunstmuseum Bern © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich. Photo Kunstmuseum Bern, recom Art Berlin

This self-portrait is symbolic of Meret Oppenheim, who always continued to develop her work with radical openness. She actively included different materials and current trends into her work and never stuck with one style or method.

  • “Nebelblume” (Flower of Fog), 1974, oil on canvas, 195 × 130 cm, Sammlung Daniel Staffelbach, Zürich, Courtesy Gerber StaufferFine Arts, Zürich, Krethlow Fine Art, Bern © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich. Photo: P. Schälchli, Zürich

The stylistic diversity of Oppenheim’s work is unusual, and was a great challenge to her time. From her first retrospective onwards she tried to define her own image as an artist. By doing this she was battling against the outward perspective imposed on her, which wanted to categorize the whole of her work under the heading of Surrealism.

Paris at last!

Guests at Sophie Taueber Arp’s and Jean Arp’s: Meret Oppenheim, Marie-Berthe Aurenche, Max Ernst among others, Clamart, around 1932 Photo: Stiftung Arp. e.V., Berlin/Rolandswerth. For the incomplete plaster model, c. 1932 by Jean Arp: © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich

Paris at last!

In 1932, at the age of 18, Meret Oppenheim goes with great determination to Paris. Here she experiences her first recognition as an artist and builds up an international network.

She has actually enrolled at an academy of art, but prefers to go drinking in the fashionable cafés. In the 1930s Paris is a melting pot for various trends in the European and American avant-garde.

“Because even if I don’t have a special teacher, I have lots of them, by seeing and hearing lots of things here.”

Meret Oppenheim, 1933 Letter to Erich Alfons Oppenheim, 26.3.1933

Within a short time Oppenheim meets such diverse artists and writers as André Breton, Marcel Duchamp, Leonor Fini, Alberto Giacometti, Dora Maar, Man Ray, Kurt Seligmann and Toyen. At a garden party at the home of Jean Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp she meets Marie-Berthe Aurenche, Max Ernst and James Joyce, among others.


To the right of Meret Oppenheim in a white blouse sit the painter Marie-Berthe Aurenche and the artist Max Ernst. Author James Joyce is at the front left in glasses. The artist Jean Arp can be seen from behind at the bottom center. Swiss Literary Archives (SLA), Bern, Estate of Meret Oppenheim, MO-E-6-C-5-043

Oppenheim is bursting with creativity, and moves into a studio. She quickly produces drawings, collages and poems. She experiments with different materials, draws sketches for sculptures, starts painting and making her first objects.


Meret Oppenheim in her studio in Paris, around 1933 Swiss Literary Archives (SLA), Bern, Estate of Meret Oppenheim, MO-E-6-C-2-013

Oppenheim is recognized as an artist and shows her works at exhibitions in Paris, Basel, London and New York. Her objects (“objets”) make a particular impression, becoming paragons of Surrealist art.

Surrealism

The term “surreal” effectively means dreamlike, unreal, standing above the real. It became stylistically influential with the “Surrealist Manifesto” published by the author André Breton in 1924. Following on from Sigmund Freud’s “The Interpretation of Dreams” he wanted to penetrate people’s secret desires, taboo longings and instincts to open up the unconscious as the site of artistic inspiration.

To achieve this the Surrealists developed new techniques such as recording dreams, combining unrelated objects, automatic writing and drawing as well as new collaborative methods. They wanted to dissolve not only the boundaries between dream and reality, fantasy and reason, but also the boundaries of bourgeois ideas of morality and values. In Paris a group of personalities came together, primarily from the spheres of film, theatre, literature and the visual arts. Among them Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, Leonor Fini, René Magritte, Dora Maar, Meret Oppenheim, Man Ray, Tristan Tzara and many others.

The Surrealists were one of the first groups in which women artists had the same status as men. But in spite of the revolutionary ideals that covered all areas of life, most of the men followed traditional role models.

“Ma gouvernante – my nurse – mein Kindermädchen”, 1936/1967, metal plate, shoes, string and paper 14 × 33 × 21 cm, Moderna Museet, Stockholm © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich. Photo: Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet

Since the age of 14 Oppenheim had been writing down her dreams, and even before her encounter with the Surrealists, she had engaged with the dreamlike, the macabre and themes of transformation.

“I never collaborated with the Surrealists. I always did what I wanted and was discovered by them by chance, you might say.”

Meret Oppenheim, 1981 In: “Freiheit, die ich meine, bekommt man nicht geschenkt”, interview by AnnA BlaU, in: Extrablatt, May 1981

She valued the friendships and connections she made throughout her life, but preferred to pursue her artistic development independently and with the greatest possible freedom.

Suddenly the provinces

“Krieg und Frieden” (War and Peace), 1943, oil on canvas, 80 × 140 cm, Kunstmuseum Basel © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich

Suddenly the provinces

The political situation in Europe forces Oppenheim to leave Paris in 1937. Arriving in Switzerland, she feels isolated and loses her confidence as an artist.

Because of his Jewish name, Oppenheim’s father has to close his medical practice in Germany. As a result, the flow of funds that financed Oppenheim’s life in Paris dries up, and she joins her family, who have in the meantime received a temporary residence permit in Basel.

Meret Oppenheim’s piece of identification “Carte de Tourisme” In: the artist's album “Von der Kindheit bis 1943”, Swiss Literary Archives (SLA), Bern, Estate of Meret Oppenheim, LW-C-1-c/3

Although Oppenheim found a connection to the anti-fascist artists association “Gruppe 33” (Group 33) in Basel, she sorely missed the liberal attitude toward life that she had enjoyed in Paris, as well as the circle of friends she had built there.

Group 33

In protest against the conservative Swiss art policy, three Basel artists formed Group 33 in 1933. The swiftly growing association brought together artists from a great variety of stylistic trends, and tried to influence art policy and the awarding of public commissions, which were usually given to classically trained artists working in the figurative tradition.

Group 33 was founded in the period leading up to the Second World War. Before and during the war years, “Intellectual National Defence” was the programme advocated in Switzerland, turning to so-called “Swiss values” with a view to constructing a cultural independence for Switzerland.

The anti-fascist Group 33 categorically rejected the idea of a purpose-led “national” art. Its members included Otto Abt, Walter Bodmer, Serge Brignoni, Paul Camenisch, Theo Eble, Walter Kurt Wiemken and Irène Zurkinden, among others. Some taught at Basel General College of Applied Art (Allgemeine Gewerbeschule), where Oppenheim also briefly studied.

“People in Basel think I’m crazy because I wear red shoes with purple stockings.”

Meret Oppenheim, 1939 Letter to André Pieyre de Mandiargues, 29.4.1939

Oppenheim feels isolated and restricted in her creativity. During these years she addresses the saga of Genevieve in pictorial form. According to legend, the Palgrave Genevieve was unjustly accused of infidelity by her husband and banished. She lived for years in the forest.

“Das Leiden der Genoveva” (The Suffering of Genevieve), 1939, oil on canvas 49,4 × 71,5 cm, Kunstmuseum Bern, Meret Oppenheim Bequest © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich. Photo: Kunstmuseum Bern, recom Art Berlin

The figure of Genevieve offers Oppenheim an identification for her own situation which, after her successes in Paris, brings her to the provinces, where she is no longer the same. Oppenheim captures that feeling in pictures by painting a floating figure without arms.

In 1937 Oppenheim decides to enrol at Basel College of Applied Art (Allgemeine Gewerbeschule). She tries to compensate for her sudden doubt about her artistic ability by achieving solid technical skills. This marks the beginning of a period of work in which she uses a markedly figurative pictorial language and paints fantastical, fairy-tale and mythological motifs.

Oppenheim is concerned not only about her artistic development but also about the worsening political situation during the Second World War. Basel is right on the border between Germany and France, and the threatening danger is immediately apparent. Like many of her friends, Oppenheim considers emigrating to the USA, and always has an escape rucksack with a revolver to hand in case Switzerland joins the war. 

“I advise you to start painting, it’s the only possibility of shaking off all these unpleasant things. As far as I’m concerned, I’m less optimistic than ever before, I'm expecting to lose everyone, but at the same time I’ll be ready to continue what I’ve started and live as I want.”

Meret Oppenheim, 1940 Letter to Leonor Fini, 1-3.8.1940

Even though in retrospect Oppenheim herself will describe these war years as a “crisis”, during this time she works constantly, takes part in exhibitions and starts taking an interest in theatre productions. She sees work as the only way of making her situation bearable.

Meret Oppenheim on her “crisis” From: “Frühstück im Pelz” by Christina von Braun, NDR, 1978 © Norddeutscher Rundfunk, 1978 / Studio Hamburg Enterprises

Avantgarde again

“Eichhörnchen” (Squirrel), 1960/1969, beer glass, plastic foam, fur, 21,5 × 13 × 7,5 cm, Kunstmuseum Bern © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich. Photo: Peter Lauri

Avant-garde again

In Bern, Oppenheim finds her adopted home. Known as a Surrealist, the artist joins the city’s new avant-garde scene.

In 1945 the Basel laboratory chemist Wolfgang La Roche advertises for a partner to accompany him on outings on his Harley Davidson, and Meret Oppenheim replies. The two become a couple and after marrying move to Bern in 1949. 

Bern might be the Swiss capital, but in comparison with international metropolises it is rather provincial. The curator Arnold Rüdlinger says of the city in 1955: “The simple lack of interest in Bern might not guarantee support, but it does guarantee the necessary tolerance.” 

Oppenheim with Wolfgang La Roche, 1952

The move turns out to be a stroke of luck for Oppenheim. In 1954 she moves back into a studio for the first time. Everything that she lost in Paris she encounters again in Bern. She works with newly won confidence and finds herself back in the middle of new avant-garde trends that find fertile ground in the Bern of the 1950s and 1960s. 

Oppenheim in her first studio in Bern, 1954 Swiss Literary Archives (SLA), Bern, Estate of Meret Oppenheim, MO-E-6-C-1-199 © Martin Glaus / Fotostiftung Schweiz

Avant-garde in Bern

In the 1950s one venue in Bern’s old town became a prime meeting point for artists. In the “Café de Commerce” famous artists like Serge Brignoni, Meret Oppenheim and Otto Tschumi met the younger generation of Lilly Keller, Dieter Roth and Daniel Spoerri. Arnold Rüdlinger, the curator of the Kunsthalle, called the café his office and invited everyone back there for drinks after exhibition openings. In his Kunsthalle program he showed exhibitions with works of contemporary post-war trends such as Informel and Abstract Expressionism.

Rüdlinger’s successor in the Kunsthalle, the curator Franz Meyer, was equally associated with American contemporary painting, but he also encouraged young sculptors in iron like Jean Tinguely and Bernhard Luginbühl. His exhibitions and legendary parties attracted important artists like Isamu Noguchi, Alberto Giacometti and Sam Francis to Bern.

The international appeal of the Kunsthalle reached a further peak with the appointment of Harald Szeemann, known today as an “artist-curator”. In 1969 he conceived the exhibition “Live in your head. When Attitudes Become Form”, which attracted sparse visitor numbers but caused a stir around the world. The radicality of the works of conceptual art, Arte Povera and Land Art, as well as the collaboration between curator and artists was new and revolutionary for a wide audience. The exhibition placed Bern definitively on the map of international contemporary art.

The diverse environment and the exhibitions in the Kunsthalle stimulate Oppenheim’s production. She constantly incorporates new influences in her work and, for example, uses new synthetic materials, combines articles of everyday use or creates objects out of natural materials.

“Eichhörnchen” (Squirrel), 1960/1969, beer glass, plastic foam, fur, 21,5 × 13 × 7,5 cm, Kunstmuseum Bern © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich. Photo: Peter Lauri

Avant-garde movements

After the Second World War new avant-garde movements came into being whose diverse forms of expression were not always easily definable, and which manifested themselves locally in different ways.

The name NOUVEAUX RÉALISTES refers to a group of artists active from the 1950s onwards. One of their typical methods is the combination or accumulation of everyday objects. In these works, chance and commodity character are brought together to form a new magic of things. The Nouveaux Réalistes include, among others, Arman, César, Yves Klein, Niki de Saint Phalle, Daniel Spoerri and Jean Tinguely.

The multifaceted POP-ART movement comes into being in the 1950s in Britain and in the USA. Their works both celebrate and criticize consumer society. The pictorial worlds of the mass media are incorporated into artistic works. The important international figures of the movement include David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg, Markus Raetz, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol.

ARTE POVERA emerges in Italy in the 1960s. The name (“poor art”) refers to the use of low-value materials such as wood, paper, fabrics or light. Arte Povera criticizes the negative effects of consumer society, industrialization and the dogma of progress at any cost. Important representatives include Alighiero Boetti, Luciano Fabro, Jannis Kounellis, Marisa Merz, Mario Merz and Nakis Panayotidis.

Dinner Party with Daniel Spoerri and Meret Oppenheim, Paris 1972 © Ad Petersen

Daniel Spoerri meets Oppenheim in Bern in around 1954. The dancer later becomes famous for his “Trap Paintings” (Tableaux-pièges), on to which, for example, he sticks used plates, cutlery and empty glasses. 

Happening on the hill “Lueg”, 1966 Photo: Keystone

In 1966 a “happening” is held in Emmental in the canton of Bern, in which artists parody themes from Swiss folklore. In Oppenheim’s contribution she pulls a peasant girl behind her while dressed as a cow.

Meret Oppenheim with Jean Tinguely, Paris 1972 © Ad Petersen

Oppenheim has a long friendship with Jean Tinguely. She has known the machine-builder since their years in Basel, and also meets up with him in Paris, where she also has a studio from the 1970s onwards.

Markus and Monika Raetz with Meret Oppenheim, 1984 Photo: © Archive Monika Raetz

The artist Markus Raetz and the fashion designer Monika Raetz work in Bern during the 1960s. During this time, both played with motifs and elements from popular culture. 

Daniel Spoerri meets Oppenheim in Bern in around 1954. The dancer later becomes famous for his “Trap Paintings” (Tableaux-pièges), on to which, for example, he sticks used plates, cutlery and empty glasses. 

“If the label ‘Surrealist’ is always applied to me there’s nothing I can do about it, it’s happened. But it doesn’t really interest me. […] It’s just always the present for me. […] For me it’s just living on: today it’s this, tomorrow that; today Op Art, then there’ll be something else. I seek out what I like, whether it happens to be Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns or Pollock.”

Meret Oppenheim, 1982 In: “Kunst ist Interpretation”, interview with Petra Kipphoff, in: Die Zeit, No. 47, 1982

Her work also attracts the attention of museum director Pontus Hultén. He makes post-war art popular, and launches major exhibitions of Pop-Art and Nouveau Réalisme. He is interested in Oppenheim as a contemporary artist and not because he sees the famous Surrealist in her work. In 1966 he invites her to show her first retrospective in the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. 

View of the retrospective, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 1967 Photo: Moderna Museet, Stockholm © Hans Hammarskiöld

C.F. Reuterswärd, Meret Oppenheim and Pontus Hultén in front of her object “Eine entfernte Verwandte” (A Distant Relative) of 1966.

View of the retrospective, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 1967 Photo: Moderna Museet, Stockholm © Hans Hammarskiöld

The exhibition includes contemporary works by the artist, such as “Eichhörnchen” (Squirrel, 1960), “Urzeit-Venus” (Primeval Venus, 1962), and “Ma gouvernante – my nurse – mein Kindermädchen” (1936/1967). Oppenheim recreated this lost work from 1936 for the retrospective.

Oppenheim in one of the wraps she designed, 1967 Photo: Swiss Literary Archives (SLA), Bern, Estate of Meret Oppenheim, MO-E-6-C-2-112. Quote from letter to Christoph Bernoulli, 26.4.1967

She writes in a letter to a friend: “It was great in Stockholm, and it’s nice to be honored and feted, as you know, which doesn’t happen so often in our beloved homeland.”

C.F. Reuterswärd, Meret Oppenheim and Pontus Hultén in front of her object “Eine entfernte Verwandte” (A Distant Relative) of 1966.

Oppenheim’s work as an artist is not widely recognized in Switzerland. At her first Bernese solo show in 1968 not a single work is sold. Her openness to different forms of artistic expression and techniques will make her uncategorizable as an artist for a long time to come. 

Meret Oppenheim on her artistic practice, 1983 From: “Vis-à-vis”, interview with Frank A Meyer, Schweizer Fernsehen DRS, 1983 © 1963-2013 SRF, licensed through Telepool GmbH Zürich

FeMale

“Dort fliegt sie, die Geliebte” (There She flies, the Beloved), 1975, oil on canvas and molded substance (Rugosit) on plastic, 71 × 99 cm, Kunstmuseum Olten, Gottfried Keller-Stiftung, Bundesamt für Kultur, Bern © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich

FeMale

Oppenheim develops a public voice and becomes the advocate of an “androgynous spirit”. She rejects the division of art into “male” and “female”.

Oppenheim receives confirmation of her work. Interest in her grows and she gives numerous television and print interviews in which she is repeatedly asked questions about being a woman. She insists that there is only one art, whether made by men or women. For her, men have female components and women male ones, each of which are suppressed. The conviction of the “dual-sex spirit” emerges playfully as a theme in her work as well.

As the women’s movement grows stronger, Meret Oppenheim is increasingly invited to take part in “women’s exhibitions” – but after contributing to several of these she begins to condemn these very exhibitions. Oppenheim has made her name in the male domain of art and wants to be judged as an artist by the same standard as her male colleagues. “Yes, there are problems for women,” she says in 1973, “but we must work and not cry.”

Women’s movement

In 1971 Linda Nochlin’s ground-breaking essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” was published in the USA; it sparked a feminist debate in the art world. Nochlin curated a series of exhibitions showing only works by women artists. Her article had a profound influence on curatorial practice and the re-evaluation of women artists.

While new exhibition practices were being tried out in the USA, women in Switzerland were still fighting for their basic political rights. In 1971 Switzerland was one of the last European countries to grant women voting rights. One crucial event was the 1969 “March on Bern”, vociferously demanding equality of the sexes on a political level. The referendum held subsequently, in which paradoxically only men were allowed to participate, brought the desired result.

One early Swiss campaigner for women’s rights was Lisa Wenger-Ruutz (1858–1941). The grandmother of Meret Oppenheim was a trained painter and one of the most widely read authors of her time.

In 1975 Meret Oppenheim receives the Basel Art Prize, her first major award. She uses the public interest to position herself. In her acceptance speech she refers not only to the difficulties of succeeding with a new formal language, but also to the denigration of the feminine and of “female artists”.

“It is not easy to be a young artist. If you work in the style of a recognized master, ancient or contemporary, success will not be long in coming. But if you speak a new language of your own that others have yet to learn, you may have to wait a very long time for a positive echo. It was, and still is even more difficult for a woman artist.”

Meret Oppenheim, 1975 From: Acceptance speech for the 1974 Art Prize of the City of Basel on 16 January 1975
Award of the art prize to Meret Oppenheim, University of Basel, 1.16.1975 Photo: Hans Bertolf, Staatsarchiv Basel-Stadt, BSL 1013 2-1337 1

In 1975 Oppenheim was the first woman ever to be awarded the Art Prize of the City of Basel.

Starting in 2001 the Swiss Grand Award for Art awarded by the Swiss Federal Office of Culture has been named “Prix Meret Oppenheim”.

Award of the city of Basel’s 1974 art prize Photo: © Maria Netter, SIK-ISEA, Courtesy Photostiftung Schweiz

In the context of the award, Oppenheim delivers a highly regarded speech that inspires the feminist art debate. 

Opening of the first Swiss retrospective at Kunstmuseum Solothurn, 1974 Photo: © Succession Leonardo Bezzola

In 1974/75 Oppenheim retrospectives are held in Solothurn, Winterthur and Duisburg. Oppenheims artist friends Sam Francis (left) and Jean Tinguely (right) also come to the opening in Solothurn.

In 1975 Oppenheim was the first woman ever to be awarded the Art Prize of the City of Basel.

Starting in 2001 the Swiss Grand Award for Art awarded by the Swiss Federal Office of Culture has been named “Prix Meret Oppenheim”.

Meret Oppenheim on the conditions for female creative work From: “Frühstück im Pelz” by Christina von Braun, NDR, 1978 © Norddeutscher Rundfunk, 1978 / Studio Hamburg Enterprises

My Exhibition

Meret Oppenheim in her Paris studio, 1978 Swiss Literary Archives (SLA), Bern, Estate of Meret Oppenheim, MO-E-6-C-3-048 and MO-E-6-C-3-046

My Exhibition

In the last years before her death in 1985, Oppenheim enjoys great moments of recognition – and develops her own concept for a retrospective.

In 1982 the 69-year-old Meret Oppenheim is invited to take part in documenta 7. documenta is the biggest survey exhibition of contemporary art, held in Kassel every five years. 

Meret Oppenheim’s catalogue raisonné and the first monograph on her work are published in the same year. She was successfully able to break with the one-sided image of her as an artist of Surrealism – Her work is finally seen in all its diversity and timeliness. 

From left to right: The artist Enzo Cucchi, the art historian Jacqueline Burckhardt and Oppenheim at documenta 7 in Kassel, 1982 Swiss Literary Archives (SLA), Bern, Estate of Meret Oppenheim, MO-E-6-C-5-140

“For my whole life I had peace from fame, which I find to be something rather disturbing. Now I’m perfectly happy with it.”

Meret Oppenheim, 1982 In: "Meret Oppenheim. Kunst kann nur in der Stille entstehen", interview with Werner Krüger, 1982.

In 1982 she receives the official commission of her adopted home of Bern to design a fountain for the city. When it is made, however, the unusual conception is not very well received. In the same year Oppenheim is invited to hold a retrospective. 

Meret Oppenheim points to the spot in Waisenhausplatz in Bern where her fountain is due to stand, 1982 Staatsarchiv des Kantons Bern, FN Baumanm 1065 © Margrit Baumann

“When I heard that after Bern I would be exhibiting in other countries and perhaps continents, I thought to myself, now it’s getting serious. Then I sat down, and on twelve big sheets of paper, in a format of about 60 x 70 cm, I made a sequence: an imaginary exhibition, from the earliest time – it also includes two drawings from childhood – to the present day.”

Meret Oppenheim, 1984 In: Interview with Rudolf Schmitz, Wolkenkratzer Art Journal, Nr. 5, Nov./Dec. 1984.
“M.O.: Mon Exposition” (M.O.: My Exhibition), 1983, (sheet 1), pencil, coloured pencil and ball point pen on twelve sheets, each 64,8 × 50 cm, Bürgi Collection, Bern © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich

In 12 drawings Oppenheim sets out a selection of the works that are important to her, and with which she feels properly represented. Along with the curator Jean-Hubert Martin she assembles the exhibition that will open at Kunsthalle Bern in 1984. One of her works is shown on the cover of the accompanying catalogue.

“La Condition humaine (Da stehen wir)” (Man’s Fate), 1973, oil on canvas, 90 × 100 cm, Private collection © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich. Photo: Courtesy Sotheby’s
Meret Oppenheim speaking about the expectations of her art while setting up her exhibition at the Kunsthalle Bern, 1984 From: “Meret L’Insoumise”, TSR, 1984 © 1963-2013 SRF, licensed through Telepool GmbH Zürich

Insider tip

Insider tip

The “Fountain” of 1983: Beloved today, disputed at the time!

Meret Oppenheim’s Fountain still stands today in Waisenhausplatz next to Kunstmuseum Bern. It changes constantly and moves with the seasons. The illumination conceived by the artist herself is briefly turned on every day along with the city’s streetlights. The city nursery has investigated the plants that grow on it, and identified 30 different species.

Fountain, 1983, Water, plants, concrete, and intermittent lighting, height 800 cm, diameter 140 cm © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich Photo from 2006 Photos: Beat Schüpbach Fountain, 1983, Water, plants, concrete, and intermittent lighting, height 800 cm, diameter 140 cm © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich Photo from 2006 Photos: Beat Schüpbach

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