Ars Cameralis Silesiae Superioris

Hans Bellmer. Photographs and graphics from Jean-Marie and Doriane Bihl-Bellmer's collection.

16.11.2002 — 15.01.2003 | Silesian Museum

An exhibition during ⅩⅠ Ars Cameralis Festival was held on 100 anniversary of Hans Bellmer’s birth. 

Hans Bellmer (born in 1902 in Katowice, died in 1975 in Paris) — a painter, graphic designer, sculptor, photographer and author, connected with the circle of French surrealism.

His first exhibition was held in Katowice in 1922. After short period of working in a coal mine, pressured by father, he started studies at Technische Hochschule in Berlin, where he met Otto Dix and George Grosz. In 1924, he was acquainted with the surrealists, he gave up studies and began working as a draftsman, typographer and illustrator. In 1933, to protest against Nazi totalitarianism, he abandoned practical activity and built his first Doll. Since 1935, Bellmer took part in surreal exhibitions in London, Paris, Tokyo and New York. At the same time, together with his brother Fritz, he built another improved version of the Doll, which was inspired by Kleist’s essay On the Marionette Theatre (illustrated by Bellmer in 1969). In 1937, after death of his wife, he emigrated to Paris.

After his works were published in Minotaur  in 1936, he has been recognized as a member of the group of leading worldwide surrealists. In 1939, in Messages’ magazine, a cycle of 14 prose poems by Paul Eluard Jeux Vagues de la Poupée, written for 14 photographs of the second Doll, was published.  During the war, together with Max Ernst, the artist was imprisoned at Camp des Milles in south France. In 1941, he married a French woman, they had two daughters Doriane and Beatrice. Around 1944, Bellmer was working on a book dedicated to the idea of body as a collection of anagrams. That’s how  L’Anatomie de l’Image (published after war) was brought to life. In 1947, Bellmer’s first individual exhibition took place at Galerie du Luxembourg. In the same year, Story of the Eye by George Bataille, with Bellmer’s illustrations, was published. In 1953, he met in Berlin a writer and artist Unica Zürn, who was his partner till her death. His output reached a wide audience through his illustrations in books by Luis Aragon, Jean Cocteau, Comte de Lautréamont and Marquis de Sade. A breakthrough in his creation was an award of William and Norma Coley Foundation received in 1958, followed by a monographic exhibition held in 1971 at Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. 

First presentation of the artist’s creation in Poland was an exhibition Around a Doll / Wokół Lalki, held in November 1996 in Silesian Museum in Katowice. The exhibition was accompanied by a publication „Gry Lalki. Hans Bellmer Katowice 1902 — Paris 1975”.


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