Unica Zürn

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Unica Zürn

Unica Zürn (6 July 1916 in Berlin-Grunewald – 19 October 1970 in Paris) was a German author and painter. She is remembered for her works of anagram poetry, exhibitions of automatic drawing, and her photographic collaborations with Hans Bellmer. An exhibition of Bellmer and Zürn's work was shown at the Ubu Gallery in New York in the spring of 2012.[1]


Zürn began writing after World War II, writing short stories and radio plays. In 1953 she met surrealist painter Hans Bellmer in Berlin. She moved with him to Paris, becoming his partner and model.[2]

Together with Hans Bellmer, Unica Zürn frequented surrealist circles and befriended people such as Man Ray, André Pieyre de Mandiargues, Henri Michaux and Max Ernst. From 1957 onwards she suffered from depression and was treated at various clinics in France. One of her doctors was Gaston Ferdière, a friend of the surrealists, who was also psychiatrist to Antonin Artaud. Her illness inspired much of her writing, above all Der Mann im Jasmin, written between 1963 and 1965.

She killed herself in 1970 by leaping from the window of the apartment she shared with Bellmer.


  • Hexentexte [The Witches' Texts] (1954)
  • Dunkler Frühling [Dark Spring] (1970)[3]
  • Der Mann im Jasmin [The Man of Jasmine] (1977)
  • Das Haus der Krankheiten, Brinkmann & Bose und Lilith, 1986
    • L'Homme-jasmin: impressions d'une malade mentale, Translator Ruth Henry, Robert Valançay, Gallimard, 1971, ISBN 978-2-07-028042-1
Works in English


  1. ^ Oisteanu, Valery (May 2012). "Bound: Hans Bellmer and Unica Zurn". The Brooklyn Rail. 
  2. ^ Andrew Brink (2007). Desire and avoidance in art: Pablo Picasso, Hans Bellmer, Balthus and Joseph Cornell. Peter Lang. ISBN 978-0-8204-9721-1. 
  3. ^ Exhibition catalog of Unica Zurn, Dark Spring, Drawing Center, New York, 2009


External links[edit]