Saturday, 30 April 2011

Artists who use dolls

Before I start filming, I want to consolidate my ideas by exploring artists who have used dolls in their work,
here are a few of my favourites:

Hans Bellmer

According to good old Wikipedia, Bellmer 'was a German artist, best known for the life-sized pubescent female dolls he produced in the mid-1930s'. He recreated the doll girl in a variety of contorted forms, all of which I find extremely scary. The fear they provoke is owed to their resemblance to a real body, combined with their Surrealist abstraction from it; they are both human and not-human. Like the dolls I have been using to depict the horrors of the pageant world, Bellmers 'poupees' give a sense of something not quite right. This is not surprising when we consider his inspiration was unrequited lust for a young girl. Like me, Bellmer manipulated his 3D object to create photographs, but he built it himself rather than using found objects.
' In acknowledging his objectification of the nubile form Bellmer seems to have stumbled across something much deeper, the tragedy of being that nubile form. Young women, though beautiful, often seek validation in a variety of ways. Society pushes such an archetype to be complacent and accepting of any affection given to them, even forcing them to play the role of the victim.'
- Interesting words from an extensive article found at

Jake and Dinos Chapman
From Six Feet Under (1997)

It would be hard not to choose these brothers, as I used to see them in the pub opposite my work! Long before this, I had found images of their strange mutant doll sculptures in books and been shocked by them from a young age. They manipulate life-sized plastic dolls to shock audiences, like I hope to. Though I'm not using life-size mannequins or mutating the body shape, I want a similar sense of obvious artificiality (hard, shiny plastic) which is unsettling in its imitation of human characteristics. I can see a lot of Bellmer's influence in their work with dolls.

Tracey Moffat
Doll Birth 1972

I had not come across this photographer before researching this project. I was taken aback by this image of two boys playing, from her 'Scarred for Life' series. Though it looks like a simple snapshot, this image uses the doll as a prop to show the tragic and the comic; in Moffat's words 'there is a thin line between both.'

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