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Whitney Chadwick

(b Berlin, Oct 6, 1913; d Berne, Nov 15, 1985).

Swiss painter and sculptor of German birth. She studied in Basle at the Kunstgewerbeschule from 1929 to 1930. After seeing an exhibition of Bauhaus work, including that of Paul Klee, at the Basle Kunsthalle, Oppenheim produced her first Surrealist work, a series of pen-and-ink drawings in a school notebook. Oppenheim’s earliest works reflect the influence of Klee and the artists of Neue Sachlichkeit. She moved to Paris in 1932 and studied briefly at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière before meeting the Surrealists through Alberto Giacometti and Hans Arp the following year. Oppenheim quickly became known as the perfect embodiment of the Surrealist woman, the femme-enfant, who through her youth, naivety and charm was believed to have more direct and spontaneous access to the realms of the dream and the unconscious. She was celebrated by the Surrealists as the ‘fairy woman whom all men desire’. Man Ray posed her nude with an etching press in a celebrated series of photographs that includes ...