Dora Maar is largely exfiltrated from Picasso at the new, very comprehensive exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, Paris. I have been following Dora and her career since I worked on a Picasso documentary for WNET in conjunction with the Picasso retrospective after his death and before the Musee Picasso was finished. At the time, she was very reclusive and reluctant to meet. She had suffered greatly from Picasso’s abusive treatment (Picasso taught me everything I needed to know about #MeToo a long time ago) and had withdrawn into a life of spirituality and secretiveness.
The exhibition takes us through her varied career as a commercial photographer, Surrealist, painter, and a late return to experimental photography towards the end of her life. From my perspective, her commercial work is easily on a par with the Surrealist photomontages and demonstrates her playfulness which planted the seeds for the later work. She was an on set photographer for Renoir, a contributor to a theater troupe, and widely traveled. Alas as soon as Picasso comes into the picture, Dora loses her integrity under the yoke of this powerful man. Her painting is derivative of his and though he theoretically respected her work, inevitably she lost her will and creative energies with the force of his personality and his genius. She documented the gestation of Guernica in a famous series of photographs but at the same time he documented her disintegration into a tearful, tragic figure in a famous series of paintings.
Dora played cat and mouse with me, first agreeing to see me, then not. I have her many letters with her beautiful cursive handwriting as a reminder to forever maintain one’s own work and sources of inspiration.
Dora Maar, Mannequin-étoile, 1936, Épreuve gélatino-argentique, Collection Thérond, © Adagp, Paris, 2019, Photo © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI / A. Laurans / Dist. RMN-GP
Rogi André, Dora Maar, vers 1937, Épreuve gélatino-argentique, 29,9 x 39,4 cm, Achat en 1983, Collection Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée national d’art moderne, Centre de création industrielle, © DR, Photo © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI / Georges Meguerditchian / Dist. RMN-GP
Brassaï, Dora Maar dans son atelier rue de Savoie, 1943, Épreuve gélatino-argentique, 30 x 23 cm, Musée national Picasso, © Adagp, Paris 2019, © Estate Brassaï - RMN-Grand Palais
Dora Maar, Assia, 1934, Épreuve gélatino-argentique / 26,4 x 19,5 cm, Achat grâce au mécénat d’Yves Rocher, 2011. Ancienne collection Christian Bouqueret, Collection Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée national d’art moderne, Centre de création industrielle, © Adagp, Paris 2019 / Photo © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI /. G. Meguerditchian / Dist. RMN-GP
Dora Maar, Sans titre, vers 1980, Épreuve gélatino-argentique / 9 x 6 cm, Achat en 2018, Collection Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée national d’art moderne, Centre de création industrielle, © Adagp, Paris. Photo © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI / P. Migeat / Dist. RMN-GP