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Die Puppe (The Doll)

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  • Date: 
    1934 / Vintage print
  • Technique: 
    Gelatin silver print on paper
  • Dimensions: 
    Support: 47 x 71 cm
  • Category: 
    Photography
  • Entry date: 
    2002
  • Register number: 
    AD02453
  • On display in:
In 1933, after seeing a production of Offenbach’s tales of Hoffmann, and inspired by the Freudian theories of the subconscious, Hans Bellmer began to build a life-size doll of plaster over a metal and wood skeleton, which he then used as a model for a series of photographs in which he projected his fantasies – including sadism, masochism and fetishism – onto the monstrous, disjointed female body. He published the photographs in a number of luxury limited edition books, which he distributed to a close circle of artists and writers. The first version of Die Puppe (The Doll), in 1934, must have passed very quickly into the Surrealist Paul Éluard’s hands, because that same winter eighteen photographs appeared in issue 6 of the magazine Minotaure, in an article entitled “Poupée. Variations sur le montage d’une mineure articulée” (Doll. Variations on the Assemblage of an Articulated Minor), and the photograph that concerns us here was included unedited in the issue. The abject nature of the series caused it to be censored by the Nazi regime, which referred to it as “degenerate” art, yet it was singled out by the Surrealist group who included it in its international exhibitions in Tenerife (1935) and London (1936). Die Puppe is deeply rooted in Surrealist poetry relating to mutilated bodies and the notion of the “formless”, a concept behind which – according to Georges Bataille – lies hidden the identity crisis of the fixed enunciating subject.

Almudena Cruz Yábar

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