Hans Bellmer

Hans Bellmer, La Poupée (The doll)

     
Artist   Hans Bellmer
Title   La Poupée (The doll) 1935

Hans Bellmer was a German artist, best known for the life-sized female dolls he produced in the mid-1930s. Historians of art and photography also consider him a Surrealist photographer. He initiated his doll project to oppose the fascism of the Nazi Party by declaring that he would make no work that would support the new German state. Represented by mutated forms and unconventional poses, his dolls were directed specifically at the cult of the perfect body then prominent in Germany. Bellmer was influenced in his choice of art form by reading the published letters of Oskar Kokoschka (Der Fetisch, 1925).

Bellmer’s doll project is also said to have been catalysed by a series of events in his personal life, including meeting a beautiful teenage cousin in 1932 – and perhaps other unattainable beauties; and attending a performance of Jacques Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann (in which a man falls tragically in love with an automaton); and receiving a box of his old toys. After these events he began to actually construct his first doll. In his works, Bellmer explicitly sexualized the doll as a young girl. On the other hand, the doll incorporated the principle of “ball joint” , which was inspired by a pair of sixteenth-century articulated wooden dolls in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum

Bellmer’s 1934 anonymous book The Doll (Die Puppe), produced and published privately in Germany, contains 10 black-and-white photographs of Bellmer’s first doll arranged in a series of “tableaux vivants” (living pictures). The book was not credited to him, he worked in isolation, and his photographs remained almost unknown in Germany. Yet Bellmer’s work was eventually declared “degenerate” by the Nazi Party, and he was forced to flee Germany to France in 1938.

His work was welcomed in the Parisian art culture of the time, especially the Surrealists under André Breton, because of the references to female beauty and the sexualization of the youthful form. His photographs were published in the Surrealist journal Minotaure.

He aided the resistance during the war, making fake passports; and was imprisoned in the Camp des Milles prison at Aix-en-Provence for most of World War II. After the war, Bellmer lived the rest of his life in Paris. He continued making work into the 1960s.

Hans Bellmer, La poupée

     
Artist   Hans Bellmer
Title   La poupée 1936-1938

Information found at: Wikipedia, and images at: Artnet.com

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