Dora Maar

Pablo Picasso und Dora Maar
© Man Ray Trust 2015 / VG BILDKUNST 2021
1907 – 1997 / Croatian-French photographer and surrealist painter

Getting started in photography

Dora Maar – the surrealist captured the world of the early 20th century in her photographs and paintings from her very own angle.

The artist, whose real name is Henriette Theodora Markovitch, was born in 1907 to a Croatian-French family in Tours (France). She grew up between Argentina and France, and from the late 1920s she trained in painting and photography at the Union centrale des arts décoratifs, the École de photographie and the Académie Julian in Paris. At first, she devoted herself passionately to photography and quickly became one of the most important photographers in Paris. Full of charm and wit, Maar takes portraits, nudes, fashion and advertising photographs.

Political life, political art

Many of Maar’s pictures are also politically influenced. The conscientious communist captures the consequences of the economic crisis in several major European cities. With her photographs, the artist took part in every major exhibition of the Surrealists in the 1930s. Politics is also an important factor in her exchange with other surrealists. Together, the artists dream of a new world and break with conventions.

Dora Maar (ganz rechts) im Kreise der Surrealist*innen, fotografiert von Man Ray
© Man Ray Trust 2015 / VG BILDKUNST 2021
“Picassos Muse”

And yet Dora Maar experiences a fate all too familiar for female artists when she begins a relationship with Pablo Picasso, 25 years her senior. Her artistic work – which evolved into painting during the course of the nine-year relationship – is subordinated by art history to that of the man at her side. From then on Maar is remembered mainly as Picasso’s muse.

Retreat to the private sphere

Maar is 36 years old when the relationship with Picasso ends in 1943. She now lives on the countryside in France. At times she suffers from severe depression and is under psychiatric treatment, but she continues to paint and exhibit her works. She processes – among other things – her impressions of Europe after the Second World War in her pieces.

Little is known about her later life, Maar lives secluded and works more independently from the art scene. In the 1970s, she devoted herself to abstract landscape painting and in her later years she was once again active in the field of photography. At the age of 89, the artist dies in Paris in 1994.

Dora Maar, La grande range, 1958
Growing interest in Maar’s art

Thanks to exhibitions of Dora Maar’s work independent from her role as Picasso’s muse, interest in her work is growing again today.