Dora Maar
Dora Maar was a French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 photographer, poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

 and painter
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

, best known for being a lover and muse
The Muses in Greek mythology, poetry, and literature, are the goddesses who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture, that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths...

 of Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the...



She was born Henriette Theodora Marković in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. Her father, Josip Marković, was a Croat
Croats are a South Slavic ethnic group mostly living in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and nearby countries. There are around 4 million Croats living inside Croatia and up to 4.5 million throughout the rest of the world. Responding to political, social and economic pressure, many Croats have...

An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

, famous for his work in South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

; her mother, Julie Voisin, was from a Catholic family from Touraine
The Touraine is one of the traditional provinces of France. Its capital was Tours. During the political reorganization of French territory in 1790, the Touraine was divided between the departments of Indre-et-Loire, :Loir-et-Cher and Indre.-Geography:...

, France. Dora grew up in Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...


Before meeting Picasso, Maar was already famous as a photographer. She also painted. She met Picasso in January 1936 on the terrace
Terrace (building)
A terrace is an outdoor, occupiable extension of a building above ground level. Although its physical characteristics may vary to a great degree, a terrace will generally be larger than a balcony and will have an "open-top" facing the sky...

 of the Café les Deux Magots in Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Saint-Germain-des-Prés is an area of the 6th arrondissement of Paris, France, located around the church of the former Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés....

, Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, when she was 29 years old and he 54. The famous poet Paul Éluard
Paul Éluard
Paul Éluard, born Eugène Émile Paul Grindel , was a French poet who was one of the founders of the surrealist movement.-Biography:...

, who was with Picasso, had to introduce them. Picasso was attracted by her beauty and self-mutilation (she cut her fingers and table playing "the knife game
The knife game
The knife game, nerve, bishop, or 5-finger fillet, is a game wherein a person places the palm of his or her hand down on a table with fingers apart, using a knife, or sharp object, the performer attempts to stab back and forth between their fingers, moving the object back and forth, trying to not...

"; he got her bloody gloves and exhibited them on a shelf in his apartment). She spoke Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 fluently, so Picasso was even more fascinated. Their relationship lasted nearly nine years.

Maar became the rival of Picasso's blonde mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter
Marie-Thérèse Walter
Marie-Thérèse Walter was the French mistress and model of Pablo Picasso from 1927 to about 1935, and the mother of his daughter, Maya Widmaier-Picasso. Their relationship began when she was seventeen years old; he was 45 and still living with his first wife, Olga Khokhlova...

, who had a newborn daughter with Picasso, named Maya. Picasso often painted beautiful, sad Dora, who suffered because she was sterile
Infertility primarily refers to the biological inability of a person to contribute to conception. Infertility may also refer to the state of a woman who is unable to carry a pregnancy to full term...

, and called her his "private muse
The Muses in Greek mythology, poetry, and literature, are the goddesses who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture, that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths...

." For him she was the "woman in tears
The Weeping Woman
Weeping Woman , is an oil on canvas painted by Pablo Picasso in France, 1937. Picasso was intrigued with the subject, and revisited the theme numerous times that year. This painting was the final and most elaborate of the series...

" in many aspects. During their love affair, she suffered from his moods, and hated that in 1943 he had found a new lover, Françoise Gilot. Picasso and Paul Éluard sent Dora to their friend, the psychiatrist Jacques Lacan
Jacques Lacan
Jacques Marie Émile Lacan was a French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist who made prominent contributions to psychoanalysis and philosophy, and has been called "the most controversial psycho-analyst since Freud". Giving yearly seminars in Paris from 1953 to 1981, Lacan influenced France's...

, who treated her with psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...


She made herself better known in the art world with her photographs of the successive stages of the completion of Guernica
Guernica (painting)
Guernica is a painting by Pablo Picasso. It was created in response to the bombing of Guernica, Basque Country, by German and Italian warplanes at the behest of the Spanish Nationalist forces, on 26 April 1937, during the Spanish Civil War...

, which Picasso painted in his workshop on the rue des Grands Augustins, and other photographic portraits of Picasso. Together, she and Picasso studied printing with Man Ray
Man Ray
Man Ray , born Emmanuel Radnitzky, was an American artist who spent most of his career in Paris, France. Perhaps best described simply as a modernist, he was a significant contributor to both the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal...


Maar kept his paintings for herself until her death in 1997. They were souvenir
A souvenir , memento, keepsake or token of remembrance is an object a person acquires for the memories the owner associates with it. The term souvenir brings to mind the mass-produced kitsch that is the main commodity of souvenir and gift shops in many tourist traps around the world...

s of her extraordinary love affair, which made her famous forever. In Paris, still occupied by the Germans, Picasso left to her a drawing from 1915 as a goodbye gift in April 1944; it represents Max Jacob
Max Jacob
Max Jacob was a French poet, painter, writer, and critic.-Life and career:After spending his childhood in Quimper, Brittany, France, he enrolled in the Paris Colonial School, which he left in 1897 for an artistic career...

, his close friend who had just died in the transit camp of Drancy
Drancy internment camp
The Drancy internment camp of Paris, France, was used to hold Jews who were later deported to the extermination camps. 65,000 Jews were deported from Drancy, of whom 63,000 were murdered including 6,000 children...

 after his arrest by the Nazis. He also left to her some still life
Still life
A still life is a work of art depicting mostly inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects which may be either natural or man-made...

s and a house at Ménerbes
Ménerbes is a commune in the Vaucluse department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France, a walled village on a hilltop in the Luberon mountains, footbills of the French Alps....

 in Provence
Provence ; Provençal: Provença in classical norm or Prouvènço in Mistralian norm) is a region of south eastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. It is part of the administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur...


After Picasso

After her long relationship with Picasso ended, Maar struggled to regain her emotional footing, she was in such a mental state that she cried so much that she needed crying tablets. This was complicated by the sudden death of her best friend, Nusch Eluard
Nusch Éluard
Nusch Éluard was a French performer, model and surrealist artist, best known as the second wife of Paul Éluard....

, wife of the poet Paul, in 1946. Likewise, her mother had also died unexpectedly in 1941, leaving Maar without family or long-time close friends.

But eventually she returned to her previous social circle, which included famous society hostesses and art patrons such as Marie-Laure de Noailles
Marie-Laure de Noailles
Marie-Laure de Noailles, Vicomtesse de Noailles , was one of the 20th century's most daring and influential patrons of the arts, noted for her associations with Salvador Dalí, Balthus, Jean Cocteau, Man Ray, Luis Buñuel, Francis Poulenc, Jean Hugo, Jean-Michel Frank and others as well as her...

 and Lise Deharme
Lise Deharme
Lise Deharme , was a French writer associated with the Surrealist movement.She was born in Paris in 1898, daughter of a famous doctor...

. She also found solace in Roman Catholicism. The author Mary Ann Caws
Mary Ann Caws
Mary Ann Caws is an American author, art historian and literary critic.She is currently a Distinguished Professor of English, French and Comparative Literature at the Graduate School of the City University of New York. She is an expert on Surrealism and modern English and French literature,...

 quotes Maar as saying, "After Picasso, God." She spent her last years living between Paris and Provence in the house Picasso had given her.

Although she had other male friends in her life, such as the gay
Gay is a word that refers to a homosexual person, especially a homosexual male. For homosexual women the specific term is "lesbian"....

 writer James Lord
James Lord (author)
James Lord was an American writer. He was the author of several books, including critically acclaimed biographies of the artists Alberto Giacometti and Pablo Picasso...

, a close friend who lived with her in the house in Provence in the 1950s, no one replaced Picasso for her.

Maar's poetry is notable for its themes of near-religious meditation. Caws in her 2000 book on Maar quotes several pieces such as one entitled "5 November", thought to have been written in 1970:

"Pure as a lake boredom

I hear its harmony

In the vast cold room

The nuance of light seems eternal

All is simple I admire

the full totality of objects."

Others were more openly religious:

"The soul that still yesterday wept is quiet -- it's exile suspended

a country without art only nature

Memory magnolia pure so far off

I am blind

and made from a bit of earth

But your gaze never leaves me

And your angel keeps me."

By the 1980s she had few friends left, but still wrote poetry and returned to photography. An exhibition of her paintings in 1990 at the Marcel Fleiss gallery was a success, as was another in Valencia, Spain in 1995, just two years before her death.
She died 89 years of age in Paris on July 16, 1997. She is buried with her family at Clamart Cemetery in Hauts de Seine.

Maar's first photography exhibition was at the Galerie de Beaune in Paris, in 1937. She had one-woman exhibitions of painting in Paris at Jeanne Bucher (1943) and Pierre Loeb (1945).

After a period of semimonastic life devoted to mystical experience, began exhibiting her paintings again during the 1950s. Towards the end of her life, she renounced her earlier association with Surrealism.

Photographic career

Maar supported herself in the 1920s and 1930s as a commercial photographer with portraits and advertisements, and pursued street photography and avant-garde experimentation in her spare time. She was prominent in Parisian art and photography circles.

In her photographs, Maar imbued blind beggars and impoverished children with unusual dignity; made distinctively austere Surrealist collages, montages and setup images (a pair of shoes seemingly walking on a beach); and created two haunting works using the ceiling of a cathedral, turned upside down.

She got on film what might be called street Surrealism: a discarded doll, hanging from a nail on a wood fence; a group of tussling children with an extra pair of legs. Her photographic work has a distinctive formal clarity and emotional directness.

Posthumous events

On 3 May 2006, one of Picasso's portraits of her, Dora Maar au Chat
Dora Maar au Chat
Dora Maar au Chat is a 1941 painting by Pablo Picasso. It depicts Dora Maar, the painter's lover, seated on a chair with a small cat perched on her shoulders...

("Dora Maar with Cat") was auctioned at Sotheby's
Sotheby's is the world's fourth oldest auction house in continuous operation.-History:The oldest auction house in operation is the Stockholms Auktionsverk founded in 1674, the second oldest is Göteborgs Auktionsverk founded in 1681 and third oldest being founded in 1731, all Swedish...

 at a closing price of US$95,216,000, making it the world's second most expensive painting ever sold at auction The winning bidder chose to remain anonymous; however, it was later revealed that he was bidding on behalf of a Russian buyer.

Two Picasso art works depicting Maar were stolen in France in 1999. First, an oil on canvas, "Dora Maar", was stolen from a boat on the French Riviera. The boat's crew was arrested and Lloyds offered a 540,000 euro reward. The painting is currently registered with the FBI's National Stolen Art File The second stolen "Dora Maar" is a bronze sculpture representing her face. It was taken from a public square in Paris on 1 April 1999.

Further reading

  • (In Croatian) Mladen Urem. Janko Polić Kamov, Dora Maar i hrvatska avangarda (Janko Polić Kamov, Dora Maar and Croatian Avantgarde). 2006 Rijeka, Croatia. Rival publishing. ISBN 953-6700-06-09
  • Mary Ann Caws. Dora Maar with & without Picasso. 2000 London. ISBN 0-500-51009-1
  • James Lord. Picasso and Dora: A memoir. 1997 New York. ISBN 0-7538-0249-X
  • (In French
    French language
    French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

    :) Alicia Dujovne Ortiz. Dora Maar : prisonnière du regard. 2003 Paris : Bernard Grasset. 358 p. ISBN 2-246-60791-4
  • Mary Ann Caws. Picasso's Weeping Woman The Life and Art of Dora Maar, Bulfinch, 2000, ISBN 0-8212-2693-2
  • Donald Goddard. Dora Maar: Photographer, Art Review, New York Art World, 2004.

External links

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