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sex doll - Origins Of The Doll

The evolution of sex dolls to the level of sophistication and realism they have today is phenomenal to see, in no small part because the history from the "Dames de Voyage" to the customisable silicone dolls available today happened largely in secret.

For various different reasons, up until the 1930s, love dolls had a largely clandestine history, largely because they were owned in secret and a lot of the evidence of these dolls and the people who owned them have been lost to history.

The first person to bring these dolls into the mainstream as more than a story or an abstract was a surrealist artist who was inspired by theatre, the struggles of great artists and a lifelong battle against authority and its cruel cult of perfection.

Despite the subversive designs that used art as an incisive instrument against the ideology of a police state, his designs were so captivating and his craft so undeniable that it inspired a generation of doll designers in the future.


Origins Of The Doll

Born in Katowice, Poland (then part of the German Empire), Hans Bellmer would be arrested for the first artwork he exhibited in 1923, but he realised his calling was there and not studying for an engineering degree.

The origins of his most famous, influential and subversive works came from a number of different sources, one of which involved the struggle of another artist.

The doll commissioned by Oskar Kokoshcka of his former lover Alma Mahler was created and indeed destroyed by 1919, but it would take until the publication of the artist’s letters in German in 1925 for the Alma doll to become more widely known in the artistic community.

This story, combined with a performance of The Tales of Hoffman and the conflicts he had with his father over his desire to be an artist created the fertile ground for the development of his construction of dolls with ball joints.

This was the start of Die Puppe (The Doll), a collection of three life-sized dolls that were increasingly realistic and sophisticated in their designs.

Photographs of their construction, with the dolls in various poses and states of construction, were eventually published in an anonymous pamphlet of the same name.

The dolls were somewhat unconventional and often posed in strange ways, a response to the increasing crackdown on art by the German state from 1933 until his escape in 1938 after his work was declared “degenerate”.

He found a much more understanding audience in France, particularly amongst André Breton and the nascent Surrealist movement.

He unfortunately gave up making dolls after the end of the Second World War, working in photography, paintings and drawings instead until he died of cancer in 1975.

By this point, his legacy was found in the developments of vinyl and later silicone dolls that built on the work he did to bring love dolls into the public eye, although more modern designs tend to be posed in more conventional ways than Mr Bellmer’s were.

October 25, 2023


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