Room 10: The games of the doll

Announcing his intention to create a life-size doll, Hans Bellmer declared: ‘I shall construct an artificial girl whose anatomy will make it possible to recreate physically the dizzy heights of passion…’ The final version of the doll consisted of components that could be assembled and resassembled in endless combinations. German-born Bellmer photographed the doll in parts or whole and in various states of undress, in such a way as to suggest different scenarios of seduction, love, mutilation and monstrosity.

Through carefully positioning the doll and hand-colouring some of the final prints, Bellmer explored an increasingly fetishistic vision of desire. André Breton and Paul Eluard described the doll as ‘the first and only original surrealist object with a universal, provocative power.’