Saturday, October 10, 2015

"After Picasso, God.": Dora Maar (1907-1997) by Priscilla Frank

Maar, born Henriette Theodora Marković, is most often referenced as an influential muse to Pablo Picasso. However, Maar was an artist in her own right, having contributed to Picasso's "Guernica" as well as a sweeping range of her own works. She was born in Tours, France, and raised in Argentina and moved to Paris at 19, where she studied photography.

Maar met Picasso when she was 28, he 54, while working on a photography set. Maar soon became a mistress and muse to the Cubist artist, occasionally modeling for, collaborating with and documenting his work. Their affair lasted nine years.

When her relationship with Picasso ended, after Picasso took up with Françoise Gilot, Maar immersed herself in Roman Catholicism, having famously said: "After Picasso, God."

Maar's legacy extends beyond her romance with Picasso. As Mary Ann Caws expressed in The Guardian, "she drew upon her lover's imagery in her own representations of his work. This says a great deal about her strength. Her recovery of her image, the agency of her own art, have not been taken as seriously as they deserve. She was not simply 'imitating' Picasso, as has been said: she was too intelligent for that. Nor is she 'imitating' his portraits of her. She is collaborating in their representation of this tragedy, as she did in photographing his work."

Dora Maar, Self-portrait, 1930

The names most often associated with surrealism, the avant-garde cultural movement born in the 1920s, include Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí, Man Ray, Hans Arp, Marcel Duchamp and Yves Tanguy, among others.

Surprise, surprise, they're all men. 

Thankfully, Sotheby's is now hoping to illuminate the many women artists who deserve equal recognition, those who also expressed the convoluted details of their interior worlds with sharp lines and bold colors. The upcoming exhibition "Cherchez la Femme: Women and Surrealism" will feature more well-known names like Frida Kahlo and Leonora Carrington, along with many even surrealist buffs may not recognize.

"A lot of it is still fairly unknown to the general public, even to surrealism enthusiasts," Julian Dawes, a Sotheby’s vice president who organized the show, explained to The New York Times. "Male surrealists look at women as objects of desire. The female surrealists sort of treat women as looking inward."

by Priscilla Frank, excerpt from 7 Forgotten Women Surrealists Who Deserve To Be Remembered

Shared with permission of the author.

You can read more about the artist here.

Read an excerpt of Dora Maar With And Without Picasso: A Biography, by Mary Ann Caws

On a personal note, I have had two "Dora Maar" paintings hanging in my home for many years. The bottom one my children thought was me for many years. I never knew she was a painter herself and I have wept with this knowledge many times over the last weeks.

I purchased this print in Spain in 1998 and it has hung on the walls of many homes since. It is one of the very few possessions we brought with us to Norway.

My children were certain this painting was done of me!

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