A painter and creator of objects, Oppenheim grew up in Switzerland and began drawing as a child—a collage-drawing from her adolescence, Cahier d'une écolière (1930), was in the collection of Andre Breton. She came to Paris in 1932, met Giacometti, and in 1933 was invited to exhibit with the surrealists at the Salon des Surindependants. She painted pictures in oil with affixed objects (L'Anatomie d'une femme morte,1934; Une Minute sans danger, 1934). In 1936 her first solo show at the Schulthess Gallery in Basel included a catalog with an introduction by Max Ernst. Her greatest success was her object, Déjeuner en fourrure (1936, Museum of Modern Art, New York), featuring a fur-covered cup, saucer and spoon. In 1937 she settled in Basel, and studied for two years at the School of Decorative Arts, completing a series of romantic paintings that included Guerre et Paix (1941, Kunstmuseum, Basel). She created countless designs for gloves, belts and shoes, as well as furniture and surrealist objects, such as a gilt table with bird's feet. In 1959 she created the "Festin cannibale" for the E.R.O.S. International Exhibition of Surrealism, at Galerie Daniel Cordier. She did a large relief for the Monbijou school in Basel in 1965 and designed a tapestry for the library there in 1966. A retrospective of her work was held in 1967 at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. Her archives were assembled by the Kunstmuseum of Bern, where a four-month Meret Oppenheim retrospective was held in 2007, with a catalog expressing appreciation for the many aspects of her talent, including the delicate paintings of her last period, represented by Le Secret de la végétation.
Born 1913 in Berlin; died 1985 in Basel.