Hans Bellmer

Drawings, Photographs & Engravings

April 29 — July 2, 2006

Opening on Saturday, April 29th, 2006, Miguel Abreu Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of drawings, photographs and engravings by Hans Bellmer. Covering four decades of the German artist’s career, from the mid-1930s to the early 1960s, the show places a particular emphasis on the last two decades of his graphic production, a period during which Bellmer liberated his line from the more illustrational and miniaturist mode of his early years. This evolution could be described as a transition from a theatrical to a time based cinematic approach. With stunning consistency, vertiginous fluidity and sure-handedness, the resulting often larger scale drawings continue to plough some of the motifs from his erotic vocabulary that have confirmed his reputation as one of the most engaging draftsman of the 20th century.

Bellmer’s influence on certain leading American artists such as Mike Kelley, Cindy Sherman or Matthew Barney warrants an attempt to extract his work from behind closed doors and the usual Surrealist mold in order to test his images in the open field. The exhibition brings together 4 well-known hand colored photographs from Les Jeux de la Poupée, 20 seldom seen drawings – including 4 color works and 1 of the 2 existing versions of Le Sens Commun – as well as a number of rare etchings and color lithographs.

Roger Borderie once claimed that Bellmer was “a visionary materialist, perhaps the first.” This might still sound to some like a provocation or a contradiction in terms. It has been the artist’s unwavering fidelity, however, to exploring the inner-workings of desire’s subjective effects on the objective world that might have proven this claim true. The Bulgarian poet, Nora Mitrani, substantiated the notion in her unfinished study of the artist in which she writes that “Bellmer looks forward to a time when the liberated imagination will rediscover its physical imaginings and destroy the contradiction between the interior and the exterior.”

This exhibition coincides with the major traveling retrospective, Hans Bellmer: Anatomy of Desire, on view until May 22nd at the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Subsequent venues are the Staatlische Graphische Sammlung, Munich (June 21 – August 20), and the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (September 18 – November 19). Approximately 70 small format photographs can also be seen in a concurrent show at New York’s Ubu Gallery.