The Erotic Doll A Modern Fetish Marquard Smith

Publication date:
15 Dec 2013
Yale University Press
376 pages: 229 x 165mm
20 color + 110 b-w illus.
Sales territories:


Since the 19th century, dolls have served as commodities but also as objects of possession and obsession, love and lust. That century witnessed the emergence of the term "heterosexual" as well as distinctly modern conceptions of fetishism, perversity and animism. Their convergence, and the demands of a growing consumer society resulted in a proliferation of waxworks, shop-window dummies, and customized love dolls, which also began to appear in art. Oskar Kokoschka commissioned a life-sized doll of his former lover Alma Mahler; Hans Bellmer crafted poupees; and Marcel Duchamp fabricated a nude figure in his environmental tableau Etant donnes. The Erotic Doll is the first book to explore men's complex relationships with such inanimate forms from historical, theoretical and phenomenological perspectives. Challenging our commonsense grasp of the relations between persons and things, Marquard Smith examines these erotically charged human figures by interweaving art history, visual culture, gender and sexuality studies with the medical humanities, offering startling insights into heterosexual masculinity and its discontents.
View the contents page

Professor Marquard Smith is Head of the School of Art and Design History in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at Kingston University London, and Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Visual Culture.

‘Ladies and gents, welcome to the museum of the erotic doll. Step right up and feast your eyes on modern man’s curious contraptions. If the saucy blow-up doll makes you squeamish, brace yourself for the Dutch Wife (a sailor’s delight!), lubricating robot ladies, surrealist brides stripped bare, state-of-the-art RealDolls, and the iDollators who love them. Marquard Smith is the curator of this collection of men's dolls, rendered in a lavishly illustrated volume.’—Laura Frost, Times Higher Education

'This book is platypus-like, unclassifiable.'—Marina Warner, London Review of Books 

“[An] intriguing book . . . Smith teases out the history of these sex objects to provide a thorough genealogy of today’s erotic mannequins.”—Shelly Ronen, Public Books

“Consistently fascinating”—Jeremy Biles, Rain Taxi