Meret Oppenheim, ‘Parapapillon Earrings ’, 2014, GEMS AND LADDERS

Meret Oppenheim frequently referred to the transformation of insects and animals. Moments like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly have intense energy and potential. A butterfly’s passage through life is concentrated; its life is short and brilliant. Oppenheim drew this form in 1975, and used it as the title sheet of a portfolio of six lithographs entitled ‘Parapapillonneries’ (1975), first shown at Michel Cassé’s gallery in Paris in 1976. In 1979 it was also made as a silver-coloured object with a red stone eye. While other prints in the series resemble dragonflies and butterflies, this form has avian characteristics and is pictured upside down, as if in mid-air tumble

Image rights: GEMS AND LADDERS, photo: Hans-Jörg F. Walter

About Meret Oppenheim

A central figure in Surrealism, Meret Oppenheim painted dream narratives and impossible juxtapositions of everyday objects to explore female sexuality, identity, and exploitation. She famously posed for Man Ray’s Erotique voilée (1933), instantly becoming an object of romantic idealization to the Surrealists for her seemingly direct and spontaneous access to experiences of the dream world through her youth, charm, and openness. In her best-known works, Oppenheim painted household objects in suggestively erotic arrangements or created haunting assemblages of indeterminate origins, often transforming objects closely associated with feminine domesticity into erotic symbols. Object (1936), a fur-covered cup, saucer, and spoon, became her most iconic work. Through exhibitions and activities amongst the Surrealist circle, Oppenheim was closely associated with Jean Arp, André Breton, and Max Ernst.

German-Swiss, 1913-1985, Charlottenburg, Germany