Hans Bellmer (German, 1902–1975) was a photographer, sculptor, writer, and painter, associated with the Surrealist movement. Born in Katowice, Poland, Bellmer was coerced by his overbearing father into working at a steel factory and a coal mine, even after passing university entrance exams. He began studies in engineering at the Technische Hochschule in Berlin, but left to pursue his interest in art and politics. Bellmer had become especially close to George Grosz, one of his drawing instructors, whose critical perspective on society influenced Bellmer''s studies and interests. In 1924, Bellmer worked as a book printer and illustrator at Malik Verlag, where he demonstrated artistic talent and contributed drawings to Dadaist novels. In the late 1920s, Bellmer began traveling and visited several countries, including France, Italy, and Tunisia. With the rise of Fascism and Nazism in the early 1930s, he stopped working as a means of resistance by refusing to provide support to the state; at this point, Bellmer established his artistic career and began creating the distorted, mannequin-like dolls for which he is best known. In 1933, Bellmer crafted the original Doll, since destroyed, and photographed it in a series of erotic postures. He published a collection of 10 of these images, accompanied by text, in Die Puppe (1934), and submitted a copy to the Parisian Surrealist magazine, Le Minotaure. The publication of Bellmer''s work confirmed his status within the Surrealist movement, as his art seemed to epitomize the Surrealist ideal of coupled attraction and aversion. Bellmer''s dolls, one of which he made with a large, bulbous abdomen and two hinged pelvises, often appear fragmented and mangled, as though appendages have been detached and rearranged. They seem naturalistic and fantastical at the same time, evoking an array of emotional responses, from recognition and excitement to fear and revulsion. Bellmer moved to Paris in 1938. He continued to draw in a unique figurative manner, and his work prominently featured themes of the subconscious, dreams, sexuality, lust, and death. His first solo exhibition took place in 1943 at the bookstore, Librairie Trentin, in Toulouse, France. Bellmer''s work has since been displayed in various museums and galleries worldwide, including the Whitechapel Gallery in London, the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, NY.

Timeline

1902
Born: Kattowitz, Poland
1923
Studied engineering at the Technische Hochschule in Berlin
1924
Learned drawing and perspective from friend George Grosz
1925
Began artistic career designing advertisements as a commercial artist and illustrating various Dada novels (such as Das Eisenbahnglück oder der Antifreud by Mynona).
1975
Died in Paris, France

Exhibitions

2009
Hans Bellmer: Octopus Time - Ubu Gallery, New York City, NY (solo)
La subversion des images. Surréalisme, photographie, film - Centre Pompidou - Musée National d´Art Moderne, Paris
2008
Wunderkammer: a century of curiosities - MoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY
2007
EROS in der Kunst der Moderne, Foundation Beyeler, Riehen
2007
busy going crazy, La Maison Rouge, Paris
2007
Hans Bellmer, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, UK
2006
Auktion 23, Lehr, Auktionshaus und Galerie, Berlin
2006
Hans Bellmer, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich; Galerie 1900-2000, Paris; Centre Pompidou, Musée National d´Art Moderne, Paris
2006
FLUTTER, The Approach, London, UK
2006
Beyond Real: Surrealist Photography and Sculpture from Bay Area Collections, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
2005
Dalí, Picasso, and the Surrealist Vision, The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT
2005
Modernist Photography, International Center of Photography, New York, NY
2005
Auktion 20 and Auktion 21, Lehr, Auktionshaus und Galerie, Berlin
2005
Extraordinary Visions, David Nolan Gallery, New York, NY
2005
The White Rose, Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, NY
2005
Begierde im Blick: Surrealistische Photographie, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg
2004
Auktion 18 and Auktion 19, Lehr, Auktionshaus und Galerie, Berlin
2004
The Invisible Revealed: Surrealist Drawings from the Drukier Collection, The Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, OH
2004
Im Rausch der Dinge, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Winterthur
2004
Modern Means: Continuity and Change in Art from 1880 to the Present, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
2003
Geografie del mistero. Metafisica, dada, surrealismo, Il Narciso Galleria d´arte contemporanea, Rome
2003
Valley of the Dolls, Modernism, San Francisco, CA
2003
Phantom der Lust. Visionen des Masochismus in der Kunst, Neue Galerie Graz am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz
2003
Flesh Tones: 100 Years of the Nude,Robert Mann Gallery, New York, NY
2003
Not Exactly Photographs, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2002
Rendez-Vous mit dem Surrealismus: Arbeiten auf Papier,Galerie Dreiseitel, Cologne
2002
La Révolution surréaliste,Centre Pompidou, Musée National d´Art Moderne, Paris
2001
"Sade surreal: Der Marquis de Sade und die erotische Fantasie des Surrealismus," Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich
2001
"Behind Closed Doors: The Art of Hans Bellmer," International Center of Photography, New York, NY
2001
"Hypermental: Wahnhafte Wirklichkeit, 1950-2000, Von Salvador Dali bis Jeff K," Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg
2000
Some Summer Surrealists,The Mayor Gallery, London, UK
2000
La collection photographique,les Abattoirs de Toulouse, Toulouse
2000
Hans Bellmer (1902-1975) Photographien und Zeichnungen aus den 30er Jahren,Galerie Berinson, Berlin
1999
Surrealism: Two Private Eyes,Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
1999
Hans Bellmer, David Nolan Gallery, New York, NY
1998
Auf den Spuren des Surrealismus: Gemälde und Zeichnungen,Galerie Brockstedt Berlin, Berlin
1998
Private ficcions,Fundación Joan Miró, Barcelona
1998
Imagined World,David Nolan Gallery, New York, NY