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Unica Zürn: Anagrammatic poetry and suicide

  • She had a sadomasochistic relationship with Bellmer which is reflected in her work

This is a profile of an artist whose work is currently on show at the 'We are completely free. Women artists and surrealism' exhibition at the Picasso Museum in Malaga. Read more about it here.

Unica Zürn (1916-1970) was born in Berlin. Her father was a soldier and her mother a writer. They divorced in 1930, their house was sold and Unica had to go out to work. She married in 1942 but later divorced, leaving her two children with their father.

She survived by writing for the radio and the press. She met Hans Bellmer, a great surrealist painter, and went to live with him in Paris.

“That's where she published her works, which are fantastic. In 1947 she began to suffer psychiatric problems.

"She describes her condition in her anagrammatic poetry. She had a sadomasochistic relationship with Bellmer which is reflected in her work, and she committed suicide by jumping out of the window of their apartment in Paris. Some of these women came to tragic ends. Why were they attracted by surrealism, which opens the door to the other side, the subconscious, to things that didn't exist before? Maybe it was a compulsion,” says José Lebrero.