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Contemporary Art Doll

Père Noël {JPG}

Defining what art dolls are can be difficult for the layman as well as artists themselves since the dolls we usually know are play dolls, victorian or boudoir dolls, or colorful cloth dolls made by our mothers, relatives or local artisans.

The introduction, over the past 20 years, of a new kind of dolls created by accomplished artists, forces us to see the world of dolls on another level. My friend Ethel Loh Strickarz, an American doll artist based in New York, has asked me, as well as other doll makers she knows, to write down our own definition of an art doll. You can read their answers on her web site but here are my personal thoughts.

What is the difference between a doll and a contemporary art doll? I would say that what makes the art doll is the search for meaning. To me, a doll may be a small representation of a human being or a fantasy character, but it must carry with it something much more important than form; its soul. In other words, an art doll is a unique work of art that claims its existence, no matter what the medium or the subject. It is limited to one. It can also touch someone’s heart or provoke intense or violent reactions. The result is the same: beyond the artist’s contribution, it exists by itself. And being a three-dimensional work of art adds to this reality.

Another interesting aspect of the doll is the way we relate to it. When we hold a play doll, we are the dominators. We play with the dolls, we dominate the doll. The art doll is not a play thing. Since it exists by itself, the art doll tends to eliminate any dimensional or temporal barriers. We then relate to the doll as our equal. When I look at my doll or someone else’s, I don’t see the background anymore. I lose track of time, I penetrate another dimension. That is for me the most extraordinary part of the journey.

While surfing the nurmerous web sites I have links to, you will note that each artist has his or her own interpretation of what a doll is. Visions are diserse as are the medium in this unique universe., which indeniably belongs to the worlds of arts.


What is a the doll compare to a sculpture or a painting? What makes it a piece of art or not? The French authors François Theimer and Michel Voinier explain the main type of dolls in Dolls Contemporary Works of Art. (Polichinelle Publications, Paris, 1996. ISBN 2-910858-03-0, (p.13):

* The Handcrafted doll is a repetitive, handmade artistic work, limited in its creation, which simply reproduces an already established genre.

* The Art doll is the industrial reproduction of an original work by an artist. It is unsigned (copies may be countersigned, like a lithography), but it is not an original work of art.

* The Artist Doll is, by its very essence, an original and unique work of art (one-of-a-kind).



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