Hans Bellmer - Photographs New York Wednesday, April 3, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Baudoin Lebon, Paris

  • Literature

    Princeton University Press, Surrealism: Desire Unbound, pp. 212, 214-215

  • Catalogue Essay

    “The imagination derives exclusively from bodily experiences.”

    The Games of the Doll marks Hans Bellmer’s second experimentation with a female doll. The first experiment, a collaboration between Hans and his brother Fritz was in 1934 and resulted in a compilation of 10 images, Die Puppe with the introduction, Memories of the Doll Theme. The images were meant to expose the inner workings of a doll whose existence hovered between an emphatically man-made construct and a biomorphic Golem, complete with a wig and make-believe eyeballs. While the doll’s construction and actions in this early compilation bore some semblance to reality, those from The Games of the Doll reveal a far less realistic depiction of the female form.

    Indeed, the images in Hans Bellmer’s The Games of the Doll collectively present a far more Surrealist vision, one in which the doll is often constructed of multiple ball-in-socket limbs that appear to have been configured with little regard to proportion or anatomical correctness. Her appearance is at once nightmarish and preposterous, straddling a fine, ambiguous line between presumed childhood innocence and a calculating adult fetishization. It is of no surprise, therefore, that about a year following his second experiment with the doll, a few of Bellmer’s images appeared in the Minotaure and Cahiers d’art, the leading French publications devoted to Surrealism. Following his move to Paris from Berlin in 1938, the famed Surrealist Paul Éluard selected fourteen images to be compiled into a book, where each image would be accompanied by a poem written by Éluard. A small edition titled Poupée II was created, but following the Second World War its publication was brought to a halt. A larger edition, published
    by Éditions Premières in Paris, as Les jeux de la poupée (The Games of the Doll), of which the current lot is an example, was published a decade later in an edition of 136. While the great majority of the books have been broken up, the current lot is a rare example of the complete book, presented as it had been originally intended by Bellmer and Éluard.


Les jeux de la poupée (The Games of the Doll)

Paris: Les Éditions Premières, 1949. 15 hand-colored gelatin silver prints plus 2 trimmed, hand-colored gelatin silver prints, all mounted within the artist’s book.
10 x 7 3/4 x 1/2 in. (25.4 x 19.7 x 1.3 cm)
Signed in pencil and stamped number '104' on the last page of book. Number 104 from an edition of 136. Text by Paul Éluard. Enclosed in a leather slipcase.

$70,000 - 90,000 

Sold for $110,500

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3 April 2013
New York