Dora Maar

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Dora Maar
Dora Maar.gif
Photographic portrait of Dora Maar attributed to Man Ray
Born November 22, 1907
Paris, France[1]
Died July 16, 1997(1997-07-16) (aged 89)
Paris, France
Nationality French
Education School of photography,
École des Beaux-Arts,
Académie Julian
Known for Photography, Painting
Movement Surrealism

Henriette Theodora Markovitch , pseudonym Dora Maar (November 22, 1907 in the 6th arrondissement of Paris - July 16, 1997 in Paris), was a French photographer, painter and poet. She was a lover and muse of Pablo Picasso.


Henriette Theodora Markovitch was the only daughter of Joseph Markovitch (1875-1969), a Croatian architect who studied in Zagreb, Vienna, and then Paris where he settled in 1896, and of his spouse catholic raised Louise-Julie Voisin (1877-1942), originally from Cognac, France.

In 1910, the family left for Buenos Aires where the father obtained several commissions including for the embassy of Austria-Hungary; His achievements earned him the honor of being decorated by Emperor Francis Joseph I, even though he was "the only architect who did not make a fortune in Buenos Aires. "

In 1926, the family returned to Paris. Dora Maar, a pseudonym she chose, took courses at the Central Union of Decorative Arts and the School of Photography. She also enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts and the Académie Julian[2] which had the advantage of offering the same instruction to women as to men. Dora Maar frequented André Lhote's workshop where she met Henri Cartier-Bresson.

When the workshop ceased its activities, Dora Maar left Paris, alone, for Barcelona and then London, where she photographed the effects of the economic depression following the Wall Street Crash of 1929 in the United States. On her return, and with the help of her father, she opened another workshop at 29 rue d'Astorg, (8th arrondissement of Paris).[3]

Dora Maar the photographer[edit]

At the beginning of 1930, she set up a photography studio on rue Campagne-Première (14th arrondissement of Paris) with Pierre Kéfer, photographer and decorator for Jean Epstein's film, The Fall of the House of Usher (1928 French film). She met the photographer Brassaï with whom she shared the darkroom in the studio. Dora Maar also met Louis-Victor Emmanuel Sougez, a photographer working for advertising, archeology and artistic director of the newspaper L'Illustration, whom she considered a mentor.

In 1932, she had an affair with the filmmaker Louis Chavance.
Dora Maar frequented the October group, formed around Jacques Prévert and Max Morise after their break from surrealism.

Her first solo exhibition was held at the Galerie Vanderberg in Paris.[4]

After the fascist demonstrations of February 6, 1934, in Paris along with René Lefeuvre, Jacques Soustelle, supported by Simone Weil and Georges Bataille, she signed the tract "Appeal to the struggle" written at the initiative of André Breton

At the end of 1935, Dora Maar was hired as a set photographer on Jean Renoir film , The Crime of Monsieur Lange. On this occasion Paul Eluard introduced her to Pablo Picasso.[5] Their liaison would last nearly nine years, without Picasso nevertheless breaking his relationship with Marie-Thérèse Walter, mother of his daughter Maya.

Dora Maar photographed the successive stages of the creation of Guernica,[6] painted by Picasso in his studio in the rue des Grands-Augustins from May to June 1937; Picasso used these photographs in his creative process. At the same time, she is the principal model of Picasso, who often represents her in tears, she, herself produced several self-portraits entitled : La Femme qui pleure - The weeping women.[7]

It is however the gelatin silver works of the surrealist period that remain the most sought after by amateurs: Portrait of Ubu (1936), 29 rue d'Astorg, black and white, collages, photomontages or superimpositions.[8][9][10][11]

Her liaison with Picasso who physically abused her and made her fight Marie-Therese Walter for his love[12] ended in 1943, although they met again episodically until 1946. Thus, on March 19, 1944, she played the role of Fat Anguish in the reading at Michel Leiris' place of Picasso' first play , Desire Caught by the Tail, led by Albert Camus. In 1944, through the intermediary of Paul Éluard, Dora Maar met Jacques Lacan, who took care of her nervous breakdown by administering her electroshocks,[13] which were forbidden at the time. Picasso bought her a house in Ménerbes, Vaucluse, where she retired and lived alone. She turned to the Catholic religion, met the painter Nicolas de Stael who lived in the same village and turned to abstract paintings.

Dora Maar the painter[edit]

The painted works of Dora Maar remained unrecognized until their posthumous sale, organized in 1999, which made the public and professionals discover a very personal production that had never left her studio.

Dora Maar abandoned photography for painting alongside leaving Picasso and his influence, or rather the crushing presence of the master, who had imposed on her a cubistic style. Pushed by Picasso to express herself in this style, one can wonder about Picasso's desire to remove his lover from the domain where she excelled, and to constrain her in a painting style which he had long mastered.

It is from the painful separation of Picasso that Dora Maar truly became a painter. Tragic figurative works, such as the Portrait of Eluard, or Self-Portrait to The Child of 1946, translate, in dark tones, the pain of post-war years.

After years of struggling with depression, [14] Dora Maar confined herself within her own memories. It is between the 1960s and 70s that there was the beginning of a respite when she experimented with abstract formats in shimmering colors. It was in the 1980s, though that the painter expressed herself fully in her many paintings of the Luberon region. Paintings of the landscapes around her house in Ménerbes,[15] showed locations dominated by wind and clouds, strongly revealing the struggle of an artist with the ghosts of her past.[16]

Dora Maar was buried in the Bois-Tardieu cemetery in Clamart.[17]


  • Mary Ann Caws: Dora Maar With And Without Picasso: A Biography, Thames & Hudson[18]
  • Mary Ann Caws, Les vies de Dora Maar : Bataille, Picasso et les surréalistes, Paris, Thames & Hudson, 2000, 224 p. (ISBN 2878111850)
  • Georgiana Colvile, Scandaleusement d'elles : trente-quatre femmes surréalistes, Paris, J.-M. Place, 1999 (ISBN 2858934967), p. 179 à 185
  • James Lord, Picasso and Dora : a personal memoir, 1993
  • Judi Freeman: Picasso and the weeping women : the years of Marie-Thérèse Walter & Dora Maar
  • Anne Baldassari: Picasso : love and war, 1935-1945
  • Zoé Valdés : The weeping woman : a novel, 2013
  • Alicia Dujovne Ortiz: Dora Maar prisonnière du regard, Le Livre de Poche, 2005. ISBN 978-2253114727
  • Olivia Lahs-Gonzales: Defining eye : women photographers of the 20th century : selections from the Helen Kornblum collection


Content in this edit is translated from the existing French Wikipedia article at fr:Dora Maar; see its history for attribution.

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