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Hans Bellmer

German, 1902-1975

Biography

Hans Bellmer adopted his controversial practice—the creation of provocative, often grotesque sculptures of pubescent female dolls—in the 1930s to rebel against the artistic rules and standards of beauty imposed by the Nazi government. After moving to Berlin in 1923, Bellmer became close with the Dada artists, particularly George Grosz, a politically minded painter who furthered Bellmer’s distrust of government. Fearing that his art would be outlawed by the Nazis as “degenerate”, in 1934 Bellmer sought acceptance abroad with André Breton and the French Surrealists, who embraced his work for its revolutionary nature and libidinous engagement with female youth. In addition to his sculptures, Bellmer produced prints, photographs, and drawings, always dealing with themes of abject sexuality and forbidden desire. Also a writer, he referred to his doll projects as “experimental poetry”.

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