Hans Bellmer (German, 1902-1975)
gelatin silver print, Image: 7.80 x 11.80 cm (3 1/16 x 4 5/8 inches); Mounted: 12.00 x 16.00 cm (4 11/16 x 6 1/4 inches). John L. Severance Fund 2007.27
Meeting a beautiful teenage cousin, seeing an opera where the hero falls in love with a female mechanical doll, and receiving a box of his childhood toys that included broken doll parts were among the influences that led Hans Bellmer to manufacture an "artificial girl." He photographed this unrealistic yet uncannily human, life-sized mannequin in poses varying from mundane, flirtatious, vulnerable, romantic, and erotic to radical re- and deconstructions of the human body. Working in Berlin as the Nazis rose to power, Bellmer created a vehicle for the erotic imagination that rekindled memories of childhood passions while prophesying some of the horrors to come.