Play with Me explores the use of dolls and robots to highlight women's bodies in art

Pandemonia – Balloon Saloon | Photo: Simon Cave

Artists are increasingly using doll-like human effigies to explore politics and gender in contemporary culture, ranging from radical statement to sophisticated critique. Play with Me showcases this appeal of animating the inanimate as well as the multifarious and fascinating ideas that dolls bring to life – from the way female forms have been objectified to the way dolls generate ethical and political debate to the way they represent the self.

Unlike sculptures, dolls offer a living and open construct of the human figure. And artists are reacting to this human form in a manner thatʼs never been seen before, constituting an exciting new direction in contemporary art.

In her new book, Play with Me: Dolls, Women and Art, journalist Grace Banks brings together profiles and interviews with over 40 artists who are united by their shared use of doll-like-forms to explore and subvert the representation of women in visual culture. From Laurie Simmons, who photographs ‘Dutch Renaissance’ style portraits of human-size silicone sex dolls in everyday settings, to Jordan Wolfson, whose controversial animatronic artwork, Female Figure will only move when someone makes eye contact with it.

Available from Laurence King.

Main image: Pandemonia – Balloon Saloon | Photo: Simon Cave

Pandemonia – New York Taxi | Photo: Simon Cave

Pandemonia – New York Taxi | Photo: Simon Cave

Stacy Leigh – Average Humans (that happen to be sex dolls) | Photo courtesy of Stacy Leigh

Stacy Leigh – Average Humans (that happen to be sex dolls) | Photo courtesy of Stacy Leigh

Laurie Simmons – Underwater from Love Doll series 2010 | Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York © Laurie Simmons

Laurie Simmons – Underwater from Love Doll series 2010 | Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York © Laurie Simmons

Stacy Leigh – Average Americans that Happen to be Sex Dolls, series 2014 | Courtesy of Stacy Leigh

Stacy Leigh – Average Americans that Happen to be Sex Dolls, series 2014 | Courtesy of Stacy Leigh

Martine Gutierrez – Real Dolls series 2013 | © Martine Gutierrez. Courtesy of the artist and Ryan Lee, New York

Martine Gutierrez – Real Dolls series 2013 | © Martine Gutierrez. Courtesy of the artist and Ryan Lee, New York

Stacy Leigh – Average Americans that Happen to be Sex Dolls, series 2014 | Courtesy of Stacy Leigh

Stacy Leigh – Average Americans that Happen to be Sex Dolls, series 2014 | Courtesy of Stacy Leigh

Stacy Leigh – Average Americans that Happen to be Sex Dolls, series 2014 | Courtesy of Stacy Leigh

Stacy Leigh – Average Americans that Happen to be Sex Dolls, series 2014 | Courtesy of Stacy Leigh

Laurie Simmons – Meeting from Love Doll series 2011 | Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York © Laurie Simmons

Laurie Simmons – Meeting from Love Doll series 2011 | Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York © Laurie Simmons

Stacy Leigh – Average Americans that Happen to be Sex Dolls, series 2014 | Courtesy of Stacy Leigh

Stacy Leigh – Average Americans that Happen to be Sex Dolls, series 2014 | Courtesy of Stacy Leigh

Kezban Arca Batibeki – Galata Tower 2014 | © Kezban Arca Batibeki

Kezban Arca Batibeki – Galata Tower 2014 | © Kezban Arca Batibeki