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The Erotic Object

Fur-covered cup

On the fourth floor of the MoMA is a roomful of objects that fit the bill of being both surreal and erotic. Some are obvious, like Giacometti’s smooth, bulging, wooden “Disagreeable Object” (a refreshing departure from his withered little alien people), and some are less so, like Dali’s “Retrospective Bust of a Woman” (That’s the one with an inkwell on top of a baguette on top of a woman’s head). But there was only one object that I was instantly, insatiably attracted to: Meret Oppenheim’s fur-covered cup.

Do you remember the scene in the 1971 cult classic HAROLD AND MAUDE where Maude shows Harold around her train car and introduces him to her great big vagina sculpture, inviting him to “stroke, palm, caress, and explore?” I can’t say that I wanted to take things with the cup as far as Harold did with the wooden vagina, but I’ve never wanted to touch a piece of art this much, ever, and like a true erotic object, it was the not touching that kept me interested. I’ve had friends quip about it being just a silly cup with some fur glued to it, and what absolutely typical surrealist stuff it is. But sometimes you have a physical, visceral, sensory-driven attraction to something that’s so strong I’m not sure it’s necessary to analyze it further. I’m actually surprised at myself for reacting this strongly to the random combination of cup and fur, but one thing is certain, after seeing it in person for the first time I can’t stop thinking about it.