Meret Oppenheim. Object. Paris, 1936
Meret Oppenheim

Object

Paris, 1936
On view
Medium
Fur-covered cup, saucer, and spoon
Dimensions
Cup 4 3/8" (10.9 cm) in diameter; saucer 9 3/8" (23.7 cm) in diameter; spoon 8" (20.2 cm) long, overall height 2 7/8" (7.3 cm)
Credit
Purchase
Object number
130.1946.a-c
Copyright
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Pro Litteris, Zurich
Department
Painting and Sculpture

This Surrealist object was inspired by a conversation between Oppenheim and artists Pablo Picasso and Dora Maar at a Paris cafe. Admiring Oppenheim's fur-covered bracelet, Picasso remarked that one could cover anything with fur, to which she replied, "Even this cup and saucer." Soon after, when asked by André Breton, Surrealism's leader, to participate in the first Surrealist exhibition dedicated to objects, Oppenheim bought a teacup, saucer, and spoon at a department store and covered them with the fur of a Chinese gazelle. In so doing, she transformed genteel items traditionally associated with feminine decorum into sensuous, sexually punning tableware.

Gallery label from The Erotic Object: Surrealist Sculpture from the Collection, June 24, 2009–January 4, 2010

Additional text

This Surrealist object was inspired by a conversation between Oppenheim and artists Pablo Picasso and Dora Maar at a Paris cafe. Admiring Oppenheim's furcovered bracelet, Picasso remarked that one could

cover anything with fur, to which she replied, "Even this cup and saucer." Soon after, when asked by André Breton, Surrealism's leader, to participate in the first Surrealist exhibition dedicated to objects, Oppenheim bought a teacup, saucer, and spoon at a department store and covered them with the fur of a Chinese gazelle. In so doing, she transformed genteel items traditionally associated with feminine decorum into sensuous, sexually punning tableware.

Gallery label from 2015

Oppenheim's fur-lined teacup is perhaps the single most notorious Surrealist object. Its subtle perversity was inspired by a conversation between Oppenheim, Pablo Picasso, and the photographer Dora Maar at a Paris café: admiring Oppenheim's fur-trimmed bracelets, Picasso remarked that one could cover just about anything with fur. "Even this cup and saucer," Oppenheim replied.

In the 1930s, many Surrealist artists were arranging found objects in bizarre combinations that challenged reason and summoned unconscious and poetic associations. Object—titled Le Déjeuner en fourrure (The lunch in fur ) by the Surrealist leader André Breton—is a cup and saucer that was purchased at a Paris department store and lined with the pelt of a Chinese gazelle. The work takes advantage of differences in the varieties of sensual pleasure: fur may delight the touch but it repels the tongue. And a cup and spoon, of course, are made to be put in the mouth.

A small concave object covered with fur, Object may also have a sexual connotation and politics: working in a male-dominated art world, perhaps Oppenheim was mocking the prevailing "masculinity" of sculpture, which conventionally adopts a hard substance and vertical orientation that can be seen as almost absurdly self-referential. Chic, wry, and simultaneously attractive and disturbing, Object is shrewdly and quietly aggressive.

Object (Le Déjeuner en fourrure). 1936

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 155

Provenance Research Project
This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
The artist, Paris; purchased by Alfred Barr, New York, 1936; on loan to The Museum of Modern Art, New York [1]; acquired in June 1946.
[1] Included in the exhibition Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, December 7, 1936-January 17, 1937 (no. 452). According to the Museum's Registrars files the lender was Barr. The exhibition catalogue, however, notes "Lent by the artist."

If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please e-mail provenance@moma.org or write to:

Provenance Research Project
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019

Pictured above: Vasily Kandinsky. Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 2 (detail). 1914. Oil on canvas, 64 1/8 x 48 3/8" (162.6 x 122.7 cm). Nelson A. Rockefeller Fund (by exchange). © 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource