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A Collection of the Work of Two of the Most Important Artists in Surrealism
December 2017 Selection by
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Bodies distort, breaking down. Forms of male and female genitals fuse with one another. Male bodies become fetishes, with missing members; others are doubled and androgynous bodies result. The sexually charged works of Louise Bourgeois and Hans Bellmer reveal remarkable parallels, even though the artists never actually met: Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) lived in Paris until 1938, where she studied art, then she went to New York, where her career as an artist began. There she maintained loose contacts to several of the Surrealists living in exile. Hans Bellmer (1902–1975) moved from Berlin to Paris in 1938, where he joined the Surrealists and regularly exhibited with them.
Louise Bourgeois, a feminist by conviction, exposed in her works the conventional understanding of sexual identity. She skeptically examined the traditional image of women and in the process also reflected on the Surrealist view of women. She adapted various Surrealist methods such as fragmentation and metamorphoses for her own purposes.
Hans Bellmer created in the puppet an ideal woman in which all his desires and fantasies but also his secret, repressed fears are reflected. He took its limbs apart and reassembled the body. The puppet can be woman and man at the same time. This ambiguity of the sexes is continued seamlessly in Bellmer’s drawings.
This publication establishes for the first time a dialogue between the works of Hans Bellmer and Louise Bourgeois, which are marked by the views of a male and female artist, respectively, as well as by personal obsessions and desires.
The publication continues the dialogue of the sexes on two other levels: it makes sense that a male and a female art historian should stake out the two positions art historically. On the other hand, the fact that Elfriede Jelinek (with a new text published here for the first time) and Henry Miller (with texts from Sexus) should be juxtaposed on a literary level will no doubt cause a sensation that promises titillating reading pleasure.
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DISTANZ is a new publishing company based in Berlin under the management of Christian Boros and Uta Grosenick. DISTANZ releases books on the visual arts as well as photography, architecture, design and fashion.