Let’s have five consecutive hours of photographers! For the first hour we’ll be looking at Hans Bellmer.
Above: Hans Bellmer, Composition
Hans Bellmer was born in what was then the German Empire in 1902 and died in France in 1975. He’s best known for the dolls he created and photographed in the 1930s. He was also known for his painting and poetry and was part of the Surrealist and Berlin Dada movements.
I remember studying his work at college when I was sixteen and finding it instantly fascinating. The images manage to be beautiful and grotesque all at once, the negative feeling drawing the viewer in rather than pushing them away.
Bellmer is said to have been influenced heavily by the letters of Oskar Kokoschka, published in Der Fetisch in 1925. He also helped the French Resistance, using his skills to create fake passports and spent nine months imprisoned in a work-camp for German nationals.
Bellmer’s partner of sixteen years, Unica Zürn (painting below), killed herself in 1970. I only discovered her today, researching for this post – I think she’s going to become a favourite!
Bellmer was born in the city of Kattowitz, then part of the German Empire (now Katowice, Poland). Up until 1926, he’d been working as a draftsman for his own advertising company. 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 Germanstate. – Good old Wikipedia
Above: Plate 9 Of Les Jeux De La Poupée (The Games Of The Doll)
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, 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 flee Germany to France in 1938. Bellmer’s work was welcomed in the Parisian art culture of the time, especially the Surrealists around 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, 5 December 1934 under the title “Poupée, variations sur le montage d’une mineure articulée” (The Doll, Variations on the Assemblage of an Articulated Minor). – Old Paint
Make sure you come back in an hour to see who the next photographer will be! I’m not sure I’ve even decided myself yet. Dali? Ray?