Centre Georges Pompidou, 1983 First edition Hardcover with dust jacket, 152 pages, 250 x 300 mm Text in French Condition: Near Fine
In often violently erotic photographs and drawings, German artist Hans Bellmer (1902-1975) developed the Surrealist theme of mannequins and dolls as metaphors of sexuality with a singularly obsessive focus. The dolls consisted of wood-and-metal skeletons covered with a realistic body of plaster; a system of ball-joints allowed them to be shaped into endless disturbing configurations, appearing dismembered and monstrous.
An erotic obsession, the Dolls incarnated Bellmer's fascination for the corruption of innocence. In his sadistic scenes the artist leaves behind masochistic traces; in his erotic manipulation he explores a brutal impulse that is also self-destructive. In this way the dolls may go inside sadistic mastery to the point where the subject confronts its greatest fear: its own fragmentation and disintegration.
Bellmer's 1934 anonymous book, Die Puppe, produced and published privately in Germany, was not credited to him, as 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 leave Germany. He settled in Paris in 1938, where his work was welcomed by the Surrealists. With the outbreak of war, Bellmer was interned as a German citizen in a prison camp in 1940.
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