Unica Zurn

Born in 1916 - France


Unica Zürn is a German artist and writer born in 1916 in Berlin-Grunewald. She started studying bussiness and worked as a stenographer at the Universum Film AG of Berlin in 1933. From 1936 to 1942, she did several advertisements. When her father died, her mother married the minister of Hindenburg, Heinrich Doehle, who later on became high dignitary of the Third Reich. Unica Zürn was therefore introduced in the Nazi environment at an early age. She married Eirch Laupenmühlen in 1942, with whom she had two children. However, their idyll lasted very short, since they divorced in 1949. In 1953, she met Hans Bellmer with whom she felt madly in love. She followed him to Paris and settled in his appartment. There, she was introduced to surrealist painters and started drawing.

Unica Zürn's drawings are clearly inspired by the surrealist movement and by the great painters of her time. Her encounter with Henri Michaux inspired her character of "L'Homme-Jasmin". After trying oil painting, she decided to dedicate solely to drawing.
However, Unica Zurn suffered from severe psychological problems. She had regular schizophrenic crises and numerous nervous depressions. Between two stays at the Saint-Anne, she tried to suicide several times, and finally succeeded in 1970, by throwing herself from the window of Hans Bellmer's appartement.

Unica Zürn exhibited her work numerous times. Her fist exhibition was organized in 1956 at the Le Soleil Gallery in the center of Paris. In 1959, she presented her drawings at the International Exhibition of Surrealism at the Daniel Cordier Gallery. The same year, the Surrealism magazine published several photographs of bondage done by Bellmer where Unica Zurn was posing naked. From 1963 to 1964, she exhibited her work at the Le Point Cardinal Gallery. The invitations to the opening and the catalog were prefaced by Max Ernst.

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