Hans Bellmer was one of the greatest Surrealist artists who has ever lived. His work has inspired other artists from every imaginable field: Film-makers, photographers, musicians, and writers. Even politicians took notice of his art. Born in Germany in 1902, he started creating “dolls” in the 1930s as an oppositional message to the burgeoning Nazi Party.
Bellmer’s dolls were three-dimensionally created. Some had articulations and some did not. He also photographed his dolls, constructed objet d’art dolls, and created fine drawings of his figures. His dolls were not normal representations of human anatomy. Instead, he would substitute arms for legs, legs for torsos, and torsos for heads. These created very surreal and, somewhat, human mutations. However, as the limbs were derived from anatomically-correct structures, there is no denying that these figures are based on the human form. Most of his creations were female-based.
When one sees his dolls, two things stand out. One is that it’s almost impossible not to see the potential autosexuality that these works possess. This is due to the re-structuring/positioning of their body parts. However, this style of doll comprises only a portion of his work. The other doll-like sex doll torso figures seem to be completely removed from any potential form of autosexuality.
“Autosexuality” has varied definitions. It typically is associated with sexually pleasing oneself. This could be through masturbation or if one had the ability to have sex with themselves. Such as Autocunnilingus (self-oral sex for women), Autofellatio (self-oral sex for men), or Autopedication (self-penile-anal sex for men). These are the most commonly known types.
With the Bellmer dolls the potential for Autocunnilingus is inevitable. Due to the repositioning of body parts, this act would be easy to perform in a large number of these figures if they were real. In fact, many of his photographs and drawings nearly lead one to this perception. They are anatomically set up in such a way to make such acts not only easy, but seemingly created just for that purpose. As with all the great Surrealists, nothing is blatantly spelt out for the observer. Bellmer doesn’t hold our hand when we view his work. He let’s us create our own perception.
In his non-doll etching from 1968, L’Aigle Mademoiselle, we see a female in a supinated position, with weight being distributed to her buttocks. Her upper torso is arched forward and her legs are completely abducted. She is pulling her dress up. An erect penis is emerging from her vulva. She is gazing at it with a slightly sardonic grin on her face. The engraving clearly shows that she could perform autofellatio on “this” emerging penis if she so desired.
Yet, as was mentioned, Bellmer’s other figures and drawings have a total absence of any form of potential autosexuality. With these we see two torsos (with legs) seamlesly connected at their torsos, as one person. There is no face and there are no arms. Only legs, buttocks, and vulvae. This autosexless layout is common in much of his work.