Object Image

Plate from La Poupée

Bellmer constructed his first doll—"an artificial girl with multiple anatomical possibilities," he said—in 1933 in Berlin. He conceived it under the erotic spell of his young cousin Ursula, but he was also inspired by Jacques Offenbach's fantasy opera Les Contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann, 1880), in which the hero, maddened by love for an uncannily lifelike automaton, ends up committing suicide.

A year later, at his own expense, Bellmer published Die Puppe (The Doll) (reprinted in French, as La Poupée, in 1936), a book of ten photographs documenting the stages of the doll's construction. The pictures created a stir among the Surrealists, who recognized its subversive nature, and French ...

Gelatin silver print
11.7 x 7.6cm
Image © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Text © MoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York

Where you'll find this

The Museum of Modern Art
Permanent collection