Aug 23 2011

How Annette Himstedt Created A New Realism Movement In Doll Making

German doll srtist Annette Himstedt is the latest in a distinct group of doll artists who defined their era. Over the past 200 years, new materials have been introduced that vastly changed the look and feel and possibilities available in doll making. Modern materials such as porcelain, vinyl, composition and resin had great affect on how we interact with dolls. These mediums affect a doll’s longevity and appearance. The materials also constrain or release an artist’s creativity through their very nature and physical properties. And yet over that same 200 years, there have been very few artistic Movements in doll making or innovative doll artists with the influence of Bru or Jumeau or the Munich Art Dolls of the early 1900s. There has been little “revolution” in dollmaking styles over that time. So when one came along, it was very contagious. This modern day doll revolution was begun by Annette Himstedt in the 1980s.

Before Annette, dolls were classic, simple and straightforward like those of Kathe Kruse. Renowned Swiss artist and dollmaker Sasha Morgenthaler designed her dolls with inexpressive, open looks that allowed them to be more adaptable to imaginative play than if they were forever smiling. Their differences were subtle and these dolls continue to be beloved around the world.

Annette took a different approach and broke many accepted conventions in dollmaking. As explained by Danny and Barrie Shapiro of The Toy Shoppe who first brought her dolls to the USA in 1986:

With her Barefoot Children in 1986, Annette Himstedt established a bold new direction for doll making. Gone was any mannequin-like structure: her dolls were like children at play with bent arms and fingers sculpted in relaxed, natural positions. Annette captured movement in her sculpts with her innovative natural posing. The large scale of her dolls was unique and very engaging. And their shoes, usually an integral part of a doll, were completely gone!

Annette Himstedt Barrie Danny New York Toy Fair

Annette Himstedt with Barrie and Danny at the New York Toy Fair in 2006

Perhaps it was her beginnings in portrait dolls that made Annette so in tune with that essence of childhood in which we all delight. Perhaps her background in fashion moved her to capture mood and expression in her dolls. Whatever the reason behind her drive, she was determined to bring her own artistic doll visions to life and did with amazing success. Her dolls were alive and both collectors and artists were drawn to them. Danny and Barrie of The Toy Shoppe expound:

This dramatic change sparked a renewed interest in dolls and Annette has presented fresh and exciting creations for over two decades! When history reflects on this time, it will surely credit Annette for inspiring artists to new and remarkable levels of creativity in the Realistic Doll Movement of the twentieth century.

In 2008, Annette closed her manufactory in Paderborn, Germany, and an era in contemporary dollmaking came to a sad close. She entrusted her good friends Danny and Barrie to represent her substantial personal collection ans well as the porcelain and vinyl artist proofs which she had accumulated over two decades of dollmaking. You can buy many of Annette Himstedt Puppen Kinder, Kinder aus Porzellan and Artist’s Proofs at The Toy Shoppe.