Of Dolls and Docents

On August 24, 1977 by Irena Martens

The Berkshire EagleIrena-Martens                                  The-Berkshire-Eagle-Irena-Martens                                  The-Berkshire-Eagle-

Lisa Vossbergh August 1977
“Of Dolls and Docents”

Downstairs, Irena Martens, who calls herself the Doll Artist, has an unusual exhibit of three -dimensional dolls, ranging from life-size to hugging size. But it’s only the size that would make any of these controversial figures huggable.

Helen Davis said some people thought these figures were frivolous. They appear to be anything but that. There is a certain melodramatic quality in their austere shapes, the dramatic materials accented with dime-store gewgaws. “The show is one of contrasts and opposites, in the imagery and in the materials, showing the duality of man,” says Mrs. Davis.


The big dolls adorn the walls and hang like religious figures. The masklike faces are based on different cultures and the flat bodies contrast with realistically shaped hands and feet.

One male figure has a jigsaw-puzzle wooden body, his early Renaissance face surrounded by wooden antlers. Religious and occult symbols such as the Star of David and an eye, adorn his chest. haunting eyes expressing determination, his hand holding a black bird; he sees evil and exposes it, hias wisdom camouflaged behind his flashy array.

The artist was born in Germany and later moved to Italy. German influences are most evident in this doll, reflecting the role of the cabaret presenting the truth in disguised songs.

Other dolls in the collection reflect African, Coptic Christian and Irena-Martens-Pupazzo-28Mesopotamian cultures.

Ms. Marten’s smaller ceramic dolls are plain of set with stones, wood and stuffed cloth. One cloth doll with a painted face and lace skirt comes closest to what one thinks of as a “doll”.

IRENA-MARTENS-Pupazzo-w.wild-hair-and- LacesIn other works, the artists ceramic and painted pictures in odd roundish shapes depict scenes with delightful aspects of flora and fauna intermingled with unpleasant, ugly sights.

This show will run to mid-September and is worth seeing, for pleasure and its unusual quality. 

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