Hans Bellmer Biography

Hans Bellmer




Hans Bellmer was born in Kattowitz, Silesia, Germany on March 13, 1902, and, despite his early acceptance to University, was urged to work at a steel factory and coal mine by his father. He continued to create his work and managed to exhibit in Poland in 19922/23, for which he was arrested under the pretense that his art was degenerate, as dictated by the heavily influential hand of Fascist Germany. He went on to study engineering at Berlin Polytechnic, from which he dropped out in 1924 to work as a book printer and then illustrator for Malik Verlag. This same year saw his fist trip to Paris, a life-changing event.

Travel, study, and marriage took up his years in Germany before World War II; he continued to produce controversial works in retaliation of what he saw happening in his homeland. To show his repudiation of Fascism, he constructed surreal three-dimensional female dolls, which he photographed in erotic poses and published himself, anonymously; the figures, for their time, represented the violent undercurrent of backlash in a country being moulded into an ideal political and physical form that did not allow variation in form or expression. Though he would later be interned at a working camp in Aix-en-Provence, these images would be further circulated outside of Fascist Germany and propel his reputation in his absence, through the French Surrealist journal ‘Les Minotaure’.

His distinctive figurative images, dosed with abstraction from his early studies and consistently, elegantly surreal, set him vividly apart from his classical German contemporaries; after being discharged from the camp, he renounced his German nationality and fled to France, where he remarried, and continued creating the style later coined Fantastic Realism, and always regarded as one of the more powerful rebellions against a staid and conventional society and reality.

Bellmer died in 1975 in Paris on February 24.