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Artists Hans Bellmer
Hans Bellmer Photo

Hans Bellmer

German Artist, Sculptor and Photographer

Movements and Styles: Dada, Surrealism, Modern Photography

Born: March 13, 1902 - Katowice, German Empire (now Poland)

Died: February 24, 1975 - Paris, France

Hans Bellmer Timeline

Quotes

"If the origin of my work is scandalous, it is because, for me, the world is a scandal."
Hans Bellmer
"It was worth all my obsessive efforts when, amid the smell of glue and wet plaster, the essence of all that is impressive would take shape and become a real object to be possessed."
Hans Bellmer
"I tried to rearrange the sexual elements of a girl's body like a sort of plastic anagram."
Hans Bellmer
"Do pretty things while simultaneously scattering the salt of deformation with a hint of vengeance."
Hans Bellmer
"One must not stop short of the interior, of stripping away coy girlish thoughts so that their foundations become visible?"
Hans Bellmer
"A man in love with a woman and himself ... is in a peculiar hermaphroditic interconnection between the male and female principles in which the female predominates."
Hans Bellmer
"A totally new unity of form, meaning and feeling: language-images that cannot simply be thought up or written up ... They constitute new, multifaceted objects, resembling polyplanes made of mirrors."
Hans Bellmer
"I am glad to be considered part of the surrealist movement although I have less concern than some surrealists with the unconscious because my works are always carefully thought out and controlled."
Hans Bellmer
"And didn't the doll, which lived solely through the thoughts projected onto it, and which despite its unlimited pliancy could be maddeningly stand-offish, didn't the very creation of its dollishness contain the desire and intensity sought in it by the imagination?"
Hans Bellmer
"An orgy of fantasies, projections, substitutions, displacements, even hallucinations."
Alain Jouffroy

"The body resembles a sentence that seems to invite us to dismantle it into its component letters, so that its true meanings may be revealed ever anew through an endless stream of anagrams."

Hans Bellmer Signature

Synopsis

Hans Bellmer's art, often in the form of dolls he called language images, served as a form of personal therapy, in which he objectified abusive relationships, explored his fantasies, and projected the essence of his desire for women and objects. He lived through the repression of artists in Nazi Germany, which became another trauma informing his art. After the war, he became well known for his explicit and sometimes pornographic illustrations. He created images that reflected what he felt was a disturbing, and disturbed world. His work has been hailed by some as representing the limits of human sexuality, while others have found his work to simply objectify the female body as a captive of the male sexual gaze.

Key Ideas

Bellmer believed art could stimulate desire in the viewer, and he played with his objects to explore how an artificial figure of a girl could create authentic passion, desire, or fantasy.
Putting Breton and Tzara's ideas into practice, Bellmer posed his dolls with various parts missing, or in odd combinations, or as seemingly random juxtapositions in order to shock the viewer into making new connections between things, and to reveal how love obsessively alters the object of one's desire.
Bellmer created objects out of, and to present, psychoanalytic concepts: the fetish, desire, drive, ambivalence, the gaze, and sadism. By exploring these, art became a stand in for analysis, as trauma, desire and obsession could be acted out on the object. He used his dolls as an attempt to understand life and death by investigating erotic limits, unconscious fears, and desires.

Biography

Hans Bellmer Photo

Childhood and Education

Bellmer spent his adult life working through childhood trauma. He and his brother lived in fear of their stern father, who showed the boys little affection. He believed he was denied a normal childhood, as natural childish play was forbidden under his father's "cold shadow." Later in life, driven by an obsessive hatred of his father, he wasted no opportunity in interviews and poems such as Der Vater (The Father, 1936) to reiterate the evil spell his father had cast over his life, once noting his "father issues" would have made him a perfect case study for Sigmund Freud. Bellmer saw his behaviour as a response to his father, and categorized it as "rebellion, defence, attack". His early interest in cross-dressing reflected a curiosity about being a woman, an early sexual interest in girls, and an opportunity to lash out at his father. Biographer Sue Taylor reports that he deliberately sent his father into a seizure by powdering his face and wearing lipstick.

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Hans Bellmer Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Hans Bellmer
Interactive chart with Hans Bellmer's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Marquis de SadeMarquis de Sade
George GroszGeorge Grosz
Oskar KokoschkaOskar Kokoschka
Man RayMan Ray
Hannah HöchHannah Höch

Personal Contacts

André BretonAndré Breton
Unica ZurnUnica Zurn
George BataillesGeorge Batailles

Movements

DadaDada
SurrealismSurrealism

Influences on Artist
Hans Bellmer
Hans Bellmer
Years Worked: 1933 - 1975
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Cindy ShermanCindy Sherman
Jake and Dinos ChapmanJake and Dinos Chapman
Paul WunderlichPaul Wunderlich

Personal Contacts

Max ErnstMax Ernst

Movements

SurrealismSurrealism
Contemporary ArtContemporary Art

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

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