Fur Your Viewing Displeasure

2016 marks 100 years of Dadaism. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the term (like myself) Dadaism, or Dada, is a genre of art that challenges the established social norms of beauty and pleasantry.

Dada is essentially the ‘anti-art’ art movement. It incorporates much creativity but to the audience can seem nonsensical, nontraditional and easily creates discussion.

One of the most powerful pieces during the beginning of Dadaism was by Meret Oppenheim, called Object, in 1936 (pictured below).

“Object” by Meret Oppenheim, 1936

The inspiration for this work began as a joking remark at a lunch with Oppenheim and Picasso. Oppenheim wore a bracelet covered in fur (she had designed) and Picasso claimed that one could cover anything with fur, even the tea cup she had in front of her.

Oppenheim clearly ran with the idea, wrapping a tea cup, saucer and spoon in fur. This piece created much discussion and mixed reactions but the Museum of Modern Art bought it, making it the first work of art by a woman in their collection.

Many of the reactions about Oppenheim’s “Object” are strong; viewers are either excited by the creative and unconventional nature or disgusted. Personally, I think it’s a fascinating piece and is the perfect example for explaining Dadaism. The unnatural pairing of texture and shape confuse the senses and it definitely creates a strong reaction.

Similar to some opinions, it grosses me out, mainly because I think of using the tea cup and spoon for their normal function and the addition of the fur makes it something out of a bad dream. This doesn’t make it an unsuccessful piece of art, though, in my opinion. I believe Oppenheim was successful in creating something that disrupted the natural flow of the art world. Rather than another sculpture or painting depicting aesthetically pleasing scenes, Oppenheim challenged those standards and helped expand the realm of what is considered art.

Overall, I think this piece is creepy and a little unsettling but the ultimate effect it has had on the art community is impressive and clearly memorable. I believe it encourages creativity in a more unconventional sense and serves as inspiration for many artists.


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