Unica Zürn  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Unica Zürn (born July 6 1916 in Berlin-Grunewald; October 19 1970 in Paris) was a German author and painter. She is remembered for her works of anagram poetry and exhibitions of automatic drawing.



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 in 1954, becoming his partner and model.

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 (after what she described as "a fateful meeting with Henri Michaux") 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 jumping out of the window of the apartment she shared with Bellmer.


  • Hexentexte [The Witches' Texts] (1954)
  • Dunkler Frühling [Dark Spring] (1970)
  • Der Mann im Jasmin [The Man of Jasmine] (1977)

English translations of The Man of Jasmine and House of Illnesses available from Atlas Press.


  • Hexentexte, Berlin 1954
  • Dunkler Frühling, Hamburg 1969
  • Der Mann im Jasmin, Frankfurt/M. [u.a.] 1977
  • Im Staub dieses Lebens, Berlin 1980
  • Das Weiße mit dem roten Punkt, Berlin 1981
  • Das Haus der Krankheiten, Berlin 1986
  • Gesamtausgabe, Berlin
    • Bd. 1. Anagramme, 1988
    • Bd. 2. Prosa 1, 1989
    • Bd. 3. Prosa 2, 1991
    • Bd. 4,1. Prosa 3, 1991
    • Bd. 4,2. Prosa 4, 1998
    • Bd. 4,3. Anmerkungen, Briefe, Dokumente, 1999
    • Bd. 5. Aufzeichnungen, 1989
    • Bd. 6. Briefe, Dokumente, Hörfunk, 2001
  • Les jeux à deux, Berlin 1989
  • Orakel und Spektakel, Berlin 1990
  • Lettres au docteur Ferdière, Paris 1994 (zusammen mit Hans Bellmer)

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