Meret Oppenheim: Mon Exposition / Retrospective at Kunstmuseum Bern

In collaboration with the Menil Collection in Houston and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Kunstmuseum Bern presents the first major transatlantic retrospective dedicated to the Swiss artist Meret Oppenheim. Titled “Mon Exposition” (My Exhibition), the show features some 200 key works on paper, objects, sculptures and paintings. It also provides an insight into the world’s largest museum collection of works by Meret Oppenheim, which is held by the Kunstmuseum Bern. Bern is the first stop of the exhibition and the only one in Europe. The retrospective show at Kunstmuseum Bern runs until February 13, 2022. After that, the exhibition travels to Houston (The Menil Collection, 25.03. – 18.09.2022), and then New York (The Museum of Modern Art, 30.10.2022 – 04.03.2023).

The exhibition “Meret Oppenheim: Mon Exposition” presents key works from five decades. It encompasses both Meret Oppenheim’s beginnings in the Paris of the 1930s and her further artistic development after the Second World War. The selection of works and in particular the less well-known works from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s show Meret Oppenheim as a contemporary artist who developed an independent and powerful artistic voice through her engagement with Pop Art, Nouveau Réalisme and monochrome painting.

Meret Oppenheim was born in Berlin in 1913. She spent her childhood in Southern Germany, Basel and Carona in Ticino. After her school days she decided to become an artist. In 1932, at the age of only 18, she first travelled to Paris for a few months and worked in various studios. She soon became acquainted with Jean Arp, Alberto Giacometti, Max Ernst and Sophie Taeuber-Arp. In October 1933 she first showed her work in an exhibition by the Surrealist group and from then on she was part of the circle around André Breton, becoming friends with Leonor Fini, Dora Maar, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and André Pieyre de Mandiargues. In the 1930s Oppenheim’s family emigrated to Switzerland, having suffered discrimination in Germany because of their Jewish surname. Oppenheim subsequently moved to Basel. Contact with her Parisian artist friends, many of whom left the country as well, was maintained almost exclusively through letters. Oppenheim experienced isolation as a limitation, and it had an effect on her artistic productivity. In 1949, Oppenheim married Wolfgang La Roche and moved with him to Bern. It was there in 1954 that the period which had begun in 1937, and which Oppenheim herself described as a crisis, came to an end. She moved into a studio and became part of the very lively Bern art scene which met regularly in the Café de Commerce. With numerous exhibitions, including her first retrospective in the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Oppenheim established herself as an artist. In 1972 she once again took a studio in Paris and from then on travelled regularly between Bern, Paris and Carona. This was followed by the first retrospective in Switzerland, the Art Prize of the city of Basel, the Big Art Prize of Berlin and an invitation to documenta.

Meret Oppenheim: Mon Exposition / Retrospective at Kunstmuseum Bern. Press preview, October 20, 2021.

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