Things That Me Me Go Mmmm 1: Hans Bellmer

I’ve seen a lot of bad art, but there are some great, creative influences whose prevailing images have been indelibly etched into the back of my mind and to whom I would like to pay tribute. They don’t all have to be artists. They don’t even have to be human.

I first stumbled upon Hans Bellmer in a very old library book, a collection of photography-as-art, which probably dated from the 1950s. It seems strange now to think that the book was probably published less than ten years after Bellmer’s first ever solo exhibition (the book fell into my hands in the late ’80s). Alongside the yellowing pages of stuffy text and the musty library smell, the contrasty black and white plates appeared to be ancient relics.

Hans Bellmer, in a nutshell: Born in Poland, 1902. Influenced by Bauhaus. Worked as commercial artist. Rebelled against Fascism, vowing forever to non-conform. Influenced by Jacques Offenbach, Oskar Kokoschka and series of events involving childhood erotic encounters with broken dolls, unrequited love and receipt of a box of broken toys; found vehicle to oppose Nazi ideology of physical perfection by anonymously self-publishing a collection of sexually charged photographs of grotesque, disfigured dolls. Fled to Paris. Inclusion in Surrealist journal. Imprisoned as German National until end of war. Continued to work as an artist, co-founded Fantastic Realism movement. Remained in Paris until death in 1975.

bellmer doll