Dora Maar with little hands, by Man Ray, 1936

Dora Marr Photographer

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Dora Maar with little hands, by Man Ray, 1936

Dora Maar, born Henriette Théodora Markovitch in 1907, was a French surrealist photographic artist and painter.  She studied painting at the Académie Julian in Paris, in the 1920s, before taking on the then (relatively) modern media of photography.  

Man looking inside an inspection door, by Maar,1936

In the early 1930s, Dora worked under the guidance of Brassaiand Man Ray, learning her craft as his assistant. Later, she opened her own photographic studio in Paris where she took artistic and commercial photographs for fashion designers and magazines.

Mannequin en maillot de bain (model wearing a swimming costume), by Maar 1936

Her unique approach was to use unusual angles, props and photographic printing techniques, that made her poetic black and white photographs and photomontages surreal a blend of fantasy and reality.

Monstre sur la plage (Monster on the Beach), by Marr (1936)
Dora met Pablo Picasso at a film screening in 1935 and they began an affair, which lasted almost 9 years.  They shared left-wing political views as well as a passion for art and they worked together, sharing photographic and painting techniques.

Dora Maar and Pablo Picasso
Dora documented the stages of Picasso’s most political anti-war work ‘Guernica’ in photographs, which he painted in response to the bombing of the Basque town in northern Spain, by Nazi Germany and fascist Italy at the behest of Spanish Nationalist. The painting helped bring worldwide attention to the Spanish Civil War and is one of Picasso’s most famous works.

Picasso woking on Guernica, by Maar1936
Dora inspired Picasso and became his muse during the years of their relationship. He painted her over 60 times (she is the subject of the Weeping Woman and Dora both 1937), although she never sat for him and is cited as saying “All his portraits of me are lies.  They are all Picassos and not one is Dora Maar”.  

Dora by Picasso, 1937
After their relationship ended badly, Dora succumbed to depression and spent time in a mental institution in the 1940s.  Afterwards, she abandoned photography to concentrate on painting, largely in private, creating personal and emotionally evocative works, including abstract landscapes.  These works were exhibited in the 1950s, to great acclaim.

The years lie in wait for you, by Marr 1936

In the 1980s, when she was in her seventies, Dora returned to the photographic studio to continue her experimentation with the media that first brought her fame, creating photograms, which are prints made without the use of a camera. Dora died on July 16, 1997 in Paris, France.

Untitled Photograme, by Marr 1980s

Dora Maar's works can be seen at a new installation ‘Dora Maar’ at the Tate Modernfrom 20th November 2019 – 15th March 2020.

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