My Nurse

Meret Oppenheim-My Nurse 1936
One of the best examples of the Surrealist ‘cult of the object’ which transformed everyday found objects in strange, suggestive ways by placing them into unlikely convergences and chance juxtapositions, My Nurse by the Swiss artist Meret Oppenheim, famous for her fur-lined tea-cup is a disturbing, subversive work with marked fetishistic overtones.

An up-turned pair of white leather high-heeled shoes are placed on a platter, bound and trussed up like a turkey. Oppenheim commented on this work that ‘…it evokes for me the association of thighs squeezed together in pleasure. In fact, almost a “proposition”. When I was a little girl, four of five, we had a young nursemaid. She was dressed in white (Sunday Best?). Maybe she was in love, maybe that’s why she exuded a sensual atmosphere of which I was unconsciously aware.’  

Oppenheim’s comments and the fact that it is shoes bound in such a manner shows that she was fully aware of Freudian psychology. Another, quite clear implication, is that women are not supposed to move.

Georges Bataille in the article Big Toe in Documents magazine outlined his view on shoe and foot fetishes. Because the foot is what treads on the ground and connects us to base reality it is despised, whereas the head, which is nearest to the sky and clouds is venerated. Of course some people will take the contrary view and worship what is generally held in contempt. Luis Bunuel took a rather more straight-forward delight in his shoe fetish as can be witnessed in the extraordinary tracking shot of Catherine Deneuve’s elegant black pumps as she climbs the stairways to Madame Anais brothel for the first time in Belle Du Jour.


58 thoughts on “My Nurse

  1. I absolutely can picture the position of the legs based on the shoes. I drew a passable sketch of Meret Oppenheim. She’s very beautiful. The foot links us to the base reality. And the head reaches for the heavens. Some might view the foot as a grounding. A foundation on which everything else must rest.

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      1. Yes soon, though I doubt I will do a new post before Saturday as this week is hectic… I am fully expecting to be back in the grove next week and continuing with T.F. For a week Saturday. This post really digressed on the whole fetish issue.

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  2. I always find surrealism intriguing, though I can never really pinpoint why, besides making me think about it. Interesting perspectives on foot fetishism; don’t forget about Quentin Tarantino and his obsession over Uma Thurman’s toes πŸ˜‰πŸ˜

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  3. Mr. Cake, Meret Oppenheim certainly turned everything on its head with this piece, strong commentary. Wonderful post, great piece of art, in fact it’s brilliant. “Breakfast in Fur”, has always been a bit unsettling for me, also most memorable, making it another great piece of art. ~ Miss Cranes

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    1. Thank you Miss Cranes this post is quite digressive. Breakfast in fur is another great piece art, however as My Nurse is less well known I thought I would highlight this brilliant piece, which is memorable and quite disturbing. Maybe I need to clarify what the Surrealists cult of the object is more. Thank you for your comments as always. Mr Cake

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    1. Thank you very much, though hopefully the posts about art aren’t too impenetrable, which is a problem I find with a lot of art criticism. I also write short stories, essays, poems and I am attempting a novel. I discovered your site through Meg we have worked on a few things together. Thanks again for the interest.

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      1. Awesome I will be enjoying reading your writings I am sure. I don’t know about you, but reading the same people over and over and over again can be paralyzing to brain matter. I just unfollowed 15 people and added 10 new folks. Time to live a little and reawaken my spirit. You dig?

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