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Oversized heads dolls are the interesting trend among dolls usually produced by Asian manufacturers and recently adopted by other toy manufacturers [1]. In short this style can be described as 1:6 scaled dolls with mature bodies and disproportional big heads and eyes.

Cultural and art basisEdit

Gamins Michel-Thomas

Michel Thomas gamins

The first impression from these dolls is "out-of-proportion", "big-headed", "scary" [2] yet likewise often they are referred to as "cute" and "kawai" [3]. And something brings people attention back to these dolls over time [4]. The strange proportions and strange attraction of these dolls has its own basis.

One trend is dated back to late 50s - 70s cultural trends in USA. That time the Big-Eye Movement was born in the USA. This expression was made popular by Wayne Hemingway in his book Just Above The Mantelpiece: Mass-Market Masterpieces. In it he attributes the birth of this inspiration to Margaret (Walter as a pseudo) Keane in North Beach San Francisco California at the end of the 1950s. These paintings rely on cultural traditions where characters present a mix of traits usually found separately as characteristic of babies, little kids or gamins in the French tradition, and sexually mature adults.

Soonie's-Rose-Margaret-Keane

Soonie's Rose by Margaret Keane

Margaret Keane is one of the most popular artist in this trend (it is said that the first Blythe doll was inspired by her paintings)however, it must be stressed that Poulbot drew gamins with oversized eyes a time before. The Parisian Poulbot pictorial tradition in France was founded by Francisque Poulbot (1879-1946) with his gamins des rues of Montmartre, and continued by Germaine Bouret (1907-1953) with her own gamins or gosses (same semantic field) and then Michel Thomas with his Parisian titis since the end of the 1960s. Victor Hugo was instrumental in popularizing such titis parisiens, street-smart kids from the popular classes who had to grow too fast given their circumstances with his characters Gavroche and Cosette in Les Misérables (1896). The complex archetype of the woman as gamine today is also derived from this tradition. This tradition has some followers nowadays also such as Rieko Sakurai or Mark Ryden.

Another trend which fits well with conception of specific Asian Dolls aesthetics is deriving from the prevalent Kawaisa (cuteness) culture in Japan with its references to the Anime and Manga aesthetics. Big eyes are typical of this cultural sensitivity, so much so that in Japan young women try to imitate the enormous eyes of Animes by wearing lenses that dilate the pupils and make the eyes seem more like tea saucers. It also interlaces with above-mentioned art tradition described as ominous hybrid of unsettling imagery that portrays the dark undercurrent of Japan’s sugary Pop Culture and offers a noir meditation on the omnipresent cult of “kawaii” (super-cute) imagery that so deeply pervades the island nation’s youth culture[5]

Big Heads Dolls creatorsEdit

Sakurai07 enwn

One of Rieko Sakurai's paintings

ReferencesEdit

  1. World Collectors Net
  2. World Collectors Net
  3. Hello Kitty Pullip Doll
  4. Blythe History
  5. Rieko Sakurai New Exhibition In Tokyo Unseal Gallery

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