Hans Bellmer
Le corps et l’anagramme


Driven by a violent revolutionary desire, which he cultivated within the Surrealist nebula, alongside André Breton, René Magritte, Gisèle Prassinos, Unica Zürn and Georges Bataille, his drawings, like his writings presented in this unpublished edition, attempted to open up such paths towards the unknown of the body and language.

To do this, Hans Bellmer uses the possibilities of decomposition of consensual reality offered by anatomical experimentation or by the elaboration of anagrams. He proceeds by strange displacements of organs, as in his Love Letters: “No smaller than a large eye, your ears are the hands of the child that occupies your head, cradled by your hands whose child is no larger than you who love me…”. The ears of the beloved woman bring back the ghost of a lost child, in a technique of displacement, diversion, and finally “deliverance”, as Bernard Noël says. Hans Bellmer insists on this: “The object identical to itself remains without reality. His graphic and literary quest aims at the disarticulation and release of bodies.

But it is not only a Hans Bellmer as theoretician or surrealist poet that we discover in these pages. In his letters, we also get to know a touching character, oscillating between historical torments, material anguish and discreet joys. Thus we find traces of his political intranquillity in a letter to René Magritte from November 1946: “The failure of the human race in Europe, which we have heard called ‘war’ etc., and the repercussions of this on my life, is a major problem for me. – The failure in Europe of the human race that we have heard called ‘the war’ etc., and the repercussions of this in my intimate life have taken away all taste for drawing or writing on serrated paper. This does not prevent evocations of serene perseverance, as in a letter to Joë Bousquet in January 1948: “Thanks to Monestier, I have a small quiet corner where I can work in peace, without being cold. – And I am happy to be still in the Midi and close to my friends. It is thus a Hans Bellmer with multiple faces that his writings collected here give us to read, embodying the idea that beings must be diffracted to be alive.

Edition L’Atelier Contemporain (with the support of fondation Antoine de Galbert)
Edited by Stéphane Massonet with an essay by Bernard Noël
Published in February 2023
French edition
16 x 20 cm
224 pages
ISBN: 978-2-493674-00-5