The Infernal Vision of Sibylle Ruppert

Sibylle-Ruppert_Decadence 1976
Sibylle-Ruppert-Decadence 1976

Quite recently I was researching H.R Giger’s illustrations for De Sade’s Justine when I stumbled across the work of the German artist Sibylle Ruppert. I immediately wondered how I had never heard of her before as I take some pride in being well versed in Surrealistic/Fantastic/Dark Art and here was an exceptional example of the genre, that furthermore took its cues from the masters of transgressive literature: De Sade (of course), Lautreamont and Bataille, all of whom I have written about.

One can only wonder at the vagaries of recognition. Although she did have some influential admirers, namely Alain Robbe-Grillet, Henri Michaux and especially Giger, who owned a large collection of her work (the only major retrospective to date was at the H.R Giger Musuem), the critical and commercial success that other Fantastic artists of the period enjoyed eluded her. Instead she worked quietly away at producing ever more horrific images from hell.

Born in Frankfurt in 1942 in the middle of a bombing raid of the city, Ruppert’s father was a graphic designer. She would sit entranced watching her father draw. One day she seized his hand and said that she would also draw nice colourful pictures like he did. Soon afterwards she presented her first drawing; it was a brutal picture of a fist striking a face. Sibylle was six at the time.

A determined  and driven child Sibylle would produce twenty drawings a day as well as studying ballet. Too tall to be a ballerina, she became a revue dancer, touring the world until one day in New York she decided to quit and dedicate herself to art. Sibylle returned for a while to Frankfurt, giving drawing instructions at the art school her father founded, then moved to Paris, where she exhibited for a number of years before resuming teaching.

As well as the literary influences cited above, all of whom she illustrated, visual traces and echoes can be observed of Bosch, Giger, Fuseli, Bellmer, Blake and Bacon, though this doesn’t in any way detract from her singularly visceral and kinetic imagination. In her paintings and drawings the flesh is always in motion; writhing, straining, collapsing, before undergoing the final monstrous transformation. A truly infernal vision that lingers unsettlingly in the mind.

Bible du Mal-Sibylle Ruppert 1978
Bible du Mal-Sibylle Ruppert 1978
Sibylle Ruppert
Sibylle Ruppert
Sibylle_Ruppert___Flucht 1971
Sibylle_Ruppert___Flucht 1971
Sibylle Ruppert-Hit Something 1977
Sibylle Ruppert-Hit Something 1977
Sibylle Ruppert-Snake 1976
Sibylle Ruppert-Snake 1976
Sibylle Ruppert-Kamm 1977
Sibylle Ruppert-Kamm 1977
Sibylle Ruppert-Les Chants de Maldoror
Sibylle Ruppert-Les Chants de Maldoror
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49 thoughts on “The Infernal Vision of Sibylle Ruppert

      1. It really is sort of random – the way one artist will catch on another remain in obscurity – and certainly not for lack of talent, vision or content. Really, this work is outstanding. Is she still active? Teaching, making art? She’d be in her 70’s but that’s no indicator.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. She unfortunately passed away in 2011. Giger was immensely successful, art featuring in movies (most famously Alien), album covers and magazines upon other things. It speaks well of him and Ruppert that he was such an avid collector of her work, as there are similarities.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Miss Cranes, delightful to have you back. I am so glad you like, a new discovery for me as well but I am also mesmerised. I don’t know how I haven’t seen or heard of her before, because this is very Cake.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! Although women have gained recognition in N.A. & Europe in the last 50-100 years, we have not reached equality to men. I feel for my sisters in other areas of earth.
        I mean… the burka?
        Yes, I know, to each their own.
        Crazy, but as a costume designer in film and television, I learned a lot working on “Little Mosque on the Prairie”. https://resamcconaghy.com/

        Liked by 1 person

      2. There’s not much to read. It’s pretty much just pics of my work as a costume designer. I sent the link to my professional website. It’s not a blog.
        I truly appreciate your sentiment!!!!! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

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