The New York Optimist
September 2008
Hans Bellmer
La Poupee, 1935-49
Hand colored vintage gelatin silver
5 5/8 x 5 5/8 in.
Marvelli Gallery,
Founded in 2001 and located in Chelsea, New York, is a contemporary art gallery that
exhibits international emerging artists working in photography, painting, installation,
video and sculpture.

Marvelli Gallery represents the following artists: Sebastian Errazuriz, Janine Iversen, Nils
Karsten, Ingar Krauss, Anthony Lepore, Alex McQuilkin, Annee Olofsson, Anders
Petersen, Manuel Piña, Juliana Romano, Michael St. John, Angela Strassheim and
Margaux Williamson.

Many of these artists exhibited in New York for the first time with Marvelli Gallery.
Since then these artists have been included in important group shows at the Whitney
Museum, New York, The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, the Musée de L’Elysee,
Lausanne, the Walker Art Center, Minnesota, the Reina Sofia, Madrid, the Centre
Pompidou, Paris, among others.

The gallery emphasizes an approach based on connoisseurship and also organizes group
exhibitions in which contemporary artists are linked to artists from different periods.
These insightful shows have received praise for their depth and originality.

Articles about these exhibitions have appeared in the The New York Times, The New
Yorker, ArtForum, The New York Sun, Flash Art, New York Magazine and ArtNet.
La Poupee,
gelatin silver
9 x 6 3/4
Since 1926 he had been working as a draftsman for his own
advertising company. He initiated his doll project to oppose the
fascism of the Nazi Party by declaring that he would make no work
that would support the new German state. Represented by mutated
forms and unconventional poses, his dolls were directed specifically
at the cult of the perfect body then prominent in Germany. Bellmer
was influenced in his choice of art form by reading the published
letters of Oskar Kokoschka (Der Fetisch, 1925).

Bellmer's doll project is also said to have been catalysed by a series of
events in his personal life including meeting a beautiful teenage cousin
in 1932 - and perhaps other unattainable beauties; and attending a
performance of Jacques Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann (in which a
man falls tragically in love with an automaton); and receiving a box of
his old toys. After these events he began to actually construct his first
doll. In his works, Bellmer explicitly sexualized the doll as a young
girl. On the other hand, the doll incorporated the principle of "ball
joint" , which was inspired by a pair of sixteenth-century articulated
wooden dolls in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum.

Bellmer's 1934 anonymous book The Doll (Die Puppe), produced and
published privately in Germany, contains 10 black-and-white
photographs of Bellmer's first doll arranged in a series of "tableaux
vivants" (living pictures). The book was not credited to him, he worked in isolation, and his photographs remained almost unknown in Germany. Yet
Bellmer's work was eventually declared "degenerate" by the Nazi Party, and he was forced to flee Germany to France in 1938. His work was welcomed
in the Parisian art culture of the time, especially the Surrealists under André Breton, because of the references to female beauty and the sexualization of
the youthful form. His photographs were published in the Surrealist journal Minotaure.  He aided the resistance during the war, making fake passports;
and was imprisoned in the Camp des Milles prison at Aix-en-Provence for most of World War II.

After the war, Bellmer lived the rest of his life in Paris. Bellmer gave up doll making, and spent the following decades creating erotic drawings, etchings,
sexually explicit photographs, paintings and prints of pubescent girls. In 1954 he met Unica Zürn, who became his companion. He continued making
work into the 1960s.