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You want to drink from the cup and eat from the spoon that is

May 12, 2014

The Surrealist Teacup That Stirred The Art World

canada goose uk black friday As the world celebrates one hundred years of dadaism, it is worth looking at how this “anti art” art movement that started in a caf in Zurich during World War I resulted in an iconic artwork involving that most humble object of tableware: the teacup. canada goose uk black friday

In 1936, a 23 year old Swiss artist named Meret Oppenheim bought a teacup, saucer and spoon from a department store in Paris and wrapped them in the cream and tan pelt of a cheap canada goose Chinese gazelle. Her hirsute little offering became a defining artifact of surrealism the art movement that sprang from dadaism’s flamboyant entrails.

One day in 1936, Oppenheim met her friends Pablo Picasso and his new lover, Dora Maar, at the Caf de Flore, the modish Paris coffeehouse goose outlet canada that was a regular haunt of artists. Beautiful, witty and fiercely independent, Oppenheim had been living in Paris for the last four years. She had scarcely managed to sell her art, but made a modest income by designing jewelry and accessories for the trailblazing fashion designer Elsa canada goose parka outlet uk Schiaparelli, known for her shoe shaped hats and telephone shaped purses. As part of the surrealist set, Oppenheim had posed nude for Man Ray’s camera and had recently ended a passionate yearlong love affair with the German painter Max Ernst, suddenly calling it off over lunch at a caf.

buy canada goose jacket Cafes would play an important role in her life. The story goes that at the Caf de Flore, Picasso commented on Oppenheim’s bracelet a broad round brass cuff wrapped canada goose outlet 2015 in ocelot fur that she had designed the previous year for Schiaparelli. Picasso remarked that one could cover anything with fur. “Even this plate and this cup here,” Oppenheim replied. Then, when she found that her tea was cooling, she jokingly asked the waiter for “un peu plus de fourrure” or “a little more fur” to swaddle her cup. buy canada goose jacket

canada goose store Shortly afterward, Oppenheim went to the department store in what would become the most famous shopping trip of her career. In her studio, she artfully wrapped the items in such a way that the tan formed a dark border around the teacup’s outer rim to match the saucer, while the body of the cup itself was offset in creamy white. canada goose store

Canada Goose sale Andr Breton, the founder of surrealism, was enchanted. Here was an artwork that chimed with his declaration that “beauty will be convulsive or will not be at all.” He called it Le Djeuner en fourrure (Luncheon in Fur, though in English it is also known as Breakfast in Fur) and exhibited it that year at the first surrealist exhibition dedicated to objects. Canada Goose sale

As the talking point of the show, the sculpture became the receptacle of all kinds of theories, fears and longings. This being the age of Freud, a gastro sexual interpretation was inescapable: the spoon was phallic, the cup vaginal, the hair pubic. For some, the tongue shaped spoon brought to mind unpleasant sensations of canada goose outlet kokemuksia a furry tongue. Others experienced unease at seeing a graceful item of the tea table transformed into something decadent and animalistic; some gagged at the thought of getting a hair or damp tea leaves in their mouth; still others wanted to stroke it.

Canada Goose online Oppenheim’s friend and mentor Marcel Duchamp had achieved something similar in 1919, when he took a postcard picture of the Mona Lisa and crayoned a black mustache and beard on her smooth face. But while his canada goose jacket outlet toronto hairy additions had a comical effect, Oppenheim’s were creepier, more visceral. Canada Goose online

Among those impressed was Alfred J. Barr Jr., the young director of New York’s newly established Museum of Modern Art. When Oppenheim expressed a willingness to sell the work for a thousand French francs, he offered roughly half that amount, $50, and she agreed. canada goose sale uk Since this was the first work by a woman the museum acquired, Oppenheim is playfully called the First Lady of MoMA.

canada goose coats For Oppenheim, the unexpected success had mixed results. The fur cup became “her prison,” according to her niece, Lisa Wenger. The next year, having run out of funds $50 didn’t last very long and with the Nazis on canada goose outlet parka the rise, Oppenheim went back to Switzerland. “She lives in Basel, bloody hates it,” Wenger said at a talk she gave at the 2013 Art Basel fair. “It was small compared to Paris, and conventional; people think she’s weird because she wears one green and one red stocking.” canada goose coats

canada goose uk shop It was the start of a 17 year long depression, according to Wenger. Oppenheim was in any case vulnerable to bouts of anxiety and melancholy, and in the year before she created her fur cup, she had been sent by her doctor father to consult the great Carl Jung. His assessment, as he wrote to her father, was that Oppenheim reflected the “youthful disorientation of our era” and did not appear to have “any neurotic complication.” canada goose uk shop

canada goose uk outlet As part of MoMA’s permanent collection, Oppenheim’s furry if balding canada goose outlet online store review ensemble continues to trigger reactions that are as intense as those elicited all those years ago in Paris. canada goose uk outlet

canada goose As the art critic Will Gompertz writes in his 2012 book What Are You Looking At?, “Two incompatible materials have been brought together to create one troubling vessel. Fur is pleasing to touch, but horrible when you put it in your mouth. You want to drink from the cup and eat from the spoon that is their purpose but the sensation of the fur is too repulsive. It’s a maddening cycle.” canada goose

At the MoMa, canada goose jacket outlet store the sculpture is known by the unadorned title that Oppenheim gave it: Object not Luncheon in Fur, which was the sensual name Breton chose.

Oppenheim, no prude by any standard, maintained that she had neither whips nor chains in mind when she was dressing up her tea things. All she had wanted was to take something familiar and make it strange.

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