I have a seven-year old daughter, so, yeah, I see a lot of dolls. From Barbie to Ever After High. However, when I stumbled across the book Enchanted Doll by Marina Bychkova, I was ushered into a new world of doll art. I have to say, that dolls, as a whole, have never interested me. As guy, my desire to own dolls started and ended with action figures (Star Wars and G.I. Joe). However, I do love art of all kinds and the dolls created by Bychkova deserve to be in museums.
What Bychkova creates is nothing short of amazing. Look at the following close up from the end of her book and note how she paints in the tears. Now tell me, if you just glanced at that, and didn’t know it was a doll, you’d think it was a photo-realistic painting.
Just creating beautiful “pin-up” quality art is one thing. But Bychkova takes it one step farther. She bases her dolls on fairy tales and legends. Here are a few of my favorites here along with the inspiration Bychkova includes.
Bride of Frankenstein
Bychkova finds her inspiration for this doll from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Camilla d’Errico’s Helmetgirls, and Erte’s conceptual fashion designs that appeared in Harper’s Bazaar magazine. Bychkova envisioned the “Bride” as a woman who went through so much high-voltage shenanigans, that her hair bleached white. She says: “Being electrocuted with several thousand volts of electricity destroyed all the pigmentation in her body, bleaching her once vivid complexion.” The Stempunk styled metal helmet helps pump oxygen to her brain and also adds some neural zapping to keep her thinking.
Little Red Riding Hood
Did I mention that Bychkova also creates all of her own clothing? Just look at the ornamentation in that red cape. Speaking of the cape, we all know the story of the little girl on the way to grandma’s who gets waylaid by a wolf. With Bychkova’s version, she imagines the peasant girl as a “rebellious, yet painfully naive teenage heiress on an ill-advised quest for adventure and independence.” Unfortunately, she is stalked by a the predatory wolf.
Not all of Bychkova’s dolls are based on fables. With “Cathedral” she shows her love for Renaissance art and gothic architecture. She says: “As a student, I was eager to experience the magnificent works of art and celebrated places from the pages of my art history textbooks. Soon after graduation, I embarked on a six-week grand tour of Italy in a camper van. While there, I was intoxicated by the Italian art, architecture, culture, and religious iconography—it truly was a sensory overload.” This experience inspired her to make art. The Cathedral doll is directly linked to her memories of Italy, especially the jewel-encrusted reliquaries in the Vatican.
Phantom of the Opera
Although not a doll of Christine, this Chandelier doll was inspired by the falling chandelier from the Phantom of the Opera stage production. This is an experimental piece for Bychkova which focuses on the lighting rather than the clothes. She imagines this chandelier as being worn by a model in a Paris catwalk for a fashion show. She exaggerated the proportions in order to create that “over the top” feel of haute couture. She says that this project “is a comment on the constrictive and at times brutal nature of fashion, showing how willingly women embrace these discomforts for the sake of conforming to accepted standards of beauty.”
There are many many more gorgeous dolls in the Enchanted Doll book. Please check it out when you get the chance. Your imagination will thank you.