(b Kattowicz, Germany [now Katowice, Poland], 13 Mar. 1902; d Paris, 24 Feb. 1975). Polish-French graphic artist, painter, sculptor, photographer, and writer, all of whose work is explicitly erotic. In 1933 he constructed an articulated plaster figure of a young girl, inspired partly by an infatuation with his 15-year-old cousin Ursula. He photographed his creation in various poses and states of dismemberment (sometimes partly clothed) and published a collection of the photographs as Die Puppe (‘The Doll’) in Karlsruhe in 1934; a French edition, La Poupée, was published in Paris in 1936.
Bellmer sent samples of the photographs to André Breton in Paris, and the Surrealists were highly excited by these striking images of ‘vice and enchantment’. In 1938, in danger of arrest by the Nazis, Bellmer fled from Berlin to Paris to join the Surrealists. He was interned at the beginning of the war (with Max Ernst), then lived in the south of France, 1942–6, before returning to Paris, where he began a long series of drawings and etchings that developed the violent eroticism of his dolls. Bellmer also produced paintings and sculpture in a similar vein. His work includes some of the acknowledged masterpieces of erotic art, but it was not well known until a large retrospective in 1971–2 at the Centre National d'Art Contemporain, Paris.
Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)