Hans Bellmer

The Machine-Gunneress in a State of Grace


Construction of wood and metal
30 7/8 x 29 3/4 x 13 5/8" (78.5 x 75.5 x 34.5 cm), on wood base 4 3/4 x 15 3/4 x 11 7/8" (12 x 40 x 29.9 cm)
Advisory Committee Fund
Object number
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Painting and Sculpture
This work is not on view.
Hans Bellmer has 25 works online.
There are 1,531 sculptures online.

Bellmer began creating disturbing dolls in 1933, the year Adolf Hitler assumed power in Germany. Many have interpreted them as acts of political defiance against the Aryan ideals and social norms promoted by the Nazis, whom he openly opposed, and expressions of the personal outrage he felt towards his father, who had joined the Nazi party. Bellmer himself stated, "If the origin of my work is scandalous, it is because for me, the world is a scandal." Made in Berlin one year before the artist left for Paris, where he lived for the better part of the rest of his life, this figure is violently fragmented, its body parts splayed and truncated and its scale distorted. Connected mechanically by ball joints, its appendages offer endless perverse recombinations, made all the more unsettling by suggesting the physical traits of both a mature woman and a prepubescent girl.

Gallery label from The Erotic Object: Surrealist Sculpture from the Collection, June 24, 2009–January 4, 2010

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
The artist; sold to Galerie André-François Petit, Paris, 1965 [1]; acquired by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1968.
[1] First exhibited at Galerie Petit, Paris, 1966 (Collection file 713.1968, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York). Included in the exhibition Dada, Surrealism and Their Heritage, May 6-June 9, 1968, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (no. 26).

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