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Saturday, 19 June 2010

Dora Maar - (1907-1997) Painter, Poet, Artist, Muse...








Sources: www.theage.com.au

www.leninimports.com

 Dora Maar-Wikipedia

Related: www.donaldnealmckay.com

www.scottzagar.com

www.all-art.org

denniscooper-theweaklings.blogspot.com

moicani.over-blog.com

neurowissenschaft.blogspot.com

carmensabespoesiayarte.blogspot

www.bloomberg.com

www.telegraph.co.uk/culture

www.newyorkartworld.com

blogs.princeton.edu

monespacesurcettefoutueplanete.over-blog.com

www.herbgreene.org

www.jutarnji.hr/dora-maar

lepetitcoquin.wordpress.com

www.pbfineart.com

raymondalcovere.hautetfort.com

www.artericerca.com

www.amb-croatie.fr

www.mfah.org/fellowships/doramaarhouse




Located in the south of France, the former residence of Dora Maar is now a retreat for scholars, artists and writers. More information. www.mfah.org/fellowships/doramaarhouse.





Dora Maar (November 22, 1907 – July 16, 1997) was a French photographer, poet and painter of Croatian descent, best known for being a lover and muse of Pablo Picasso.

She was born Henriette Theodora Markovitch in Tours, Western France to a Jewish family. Her father, Josip Marković, was a Croat architect, famous for his work in South America; her mother, Julie Voisin, was from Touraine, France. Dora grew up in Argentina.

In his 10-year love affair with Dora Maar, Pablo Picasso found a union that challenged and changed him intellectually and artistically, writes Gerard Vaughan.

IN JULY 1997, AT THE age of 90, Dora Maar died in Paris. Her apartment in the Rue de Savoie, in which she had for many years maintained a reclusive existence, remained a virtual time-capsule attesting to the long trajectory of her own artistic career, and to the decade in which she shared her life with Pablo Picasso - as lover, friend, muse, agent provocateur, witness and documenter. In the end however, it was their stormy relationship and Picasso himself who ultimately ruined her life.

The story of Pablo Picasso and Dora Maar is a panoramic tale of great love played out in a theatre of relentless world tragedy - from the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War, to the horror of the Second World War and Adolf Hitler's temporary domination of Europe.

Maar was a hoarder, a fact for which we can all be grateful. Through careful study of hundreds of precious works and documents acquired from her estate, Anne Baldassari, the director of the Musee Picasso in Paris, has been able completely to re-evaluate this crucial decade in the lives of both Maar and Picasso. In a truly ground-breaking exhibition, staged only at the Musee Picasso and the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, her remarkable scholarship is presented to the world for the first time. Picasso: Love & War 1935-45 offers one of those rare opportunities for a well-known artist to be reassessed through the discovery of a new body of evidence.




Pablo Picasso's portrait of Dora Maar.





There are numerous accounts of how Picasso, already an art world celebrity, first met his future partner, the talented and captivatingly beautiful photographer Maar. But most agree that their initial meeting took place in the winter of 1935-36, at the Deux Magots cafe, a bustling meeting place for artists and writers on the famed Left Bank of Paris. In one version of the story, which over the years has acquired a semi-mythical status in its many retellings, the surrealist poet Paul Eluard simply mediated an introduction between Pablo and Dora, two close friends from within different circles of his acquaintance.




Dora Maar portrait by Man Ray.



Dora Maar by Rogi Andre, 1940.





More dramatic accounts suggest that Dora herself, having set her sights upon the great Picasso, began deliberately frequenting the Deux Magots, performing a "mysterious woman" routine that would eventually ensnare the renowned artist. In the most surreal and erotically charged tale of their first encounter, Picasso found himself fascinated by the sight of Maar playing a kind of game of Russian Roulette, with a knife that she threw repeatedly on to one of the cafe's tables, between the splayed fingers of her hand, impervious to the occasional bloody cuts incurred by a misthrow of the blade.








Drawn to Dora's smouldering allure created by this blood ritual, to discover at its heart a fellow artist fluent not only in French but also in his native tongue, Spanish, Picasso was instantly smitten - as he would be with Dora for the next decade.

Dora Maar had been working as a professional photographer since 1931 when she had established a business with Pierre Kefer. Photographs from the Kefer-Maar studio were used for dramatic and occasionally surreal advertising statements in the early 1930s, and also regularly appeared in fashion magazines such as Madame Figaro. At times Dora Maar had shared a darkroom with the great Hungarian photographer Brassai, and she also formed strong friendships within the left-wing intellectual circles that were so active in Paris in the 1930s.

She was an active member of the October agitprop group, which sought to bring theatrical dialogues about social injustices to working-class audiences. Before meeting Picasso, she had pursued a relationship with Georges Bataille, a leading surrealist author and intellectual, and founder of the influential revue Documents. And she had befriended other surrealist writers such as the poet Paul Eluard and the legendary Andre Breton. Extremely intelligent, independent and strong-willed, she had earned a reputation within these avant-garde circles as the creator of enigmatic and haunting - indeed, disturbing - surrealist photomontages.

At the time of her first meeting with Picasso, the 28-year-old Dora was working solo, running a successful photographic practice in Paris's 8th arrondissement. Picasso, aged 53, was still personally entangled with two other women - his first wife Olga Koklova, a dancer from the Ballets Russes whom he had married in 1918, and who bore him a son, Paolo, in 1921; and Marie-Therese Walter, his mistress since 1927, who in 1935 had given birth to their daughter, Maya.

While both Olga and Marie-Therese remained close to Picasso, despite obvious tensions, it is clear that in his new relationship with Maar, Picasso had found a union that transcended the physical and emotional, engaging him intellectually as an artistic equal, and even at times rival. Here was an opinionated, passionate and cerebral woman who moved comfortably within the same literary and artistic cliques in which Picasso often found himself engaged. How had it taken him so long to meet this surrealist siren?




Pablo Picasso - Dora and the Minotaur - Composition - 1936.





In December 1935 Picasso was still living in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, north of the Louvre, in a combined apartment and studio that he had first occupied with Olga Koklova in 1918. He had only a short stroll ahead of him, therefore, on a cold day in the winter of 1935-36, when he accepted Maar's invitation for him to pose for a photographic shoot, and set out for her studio rugged up in an overcoat and scarf. Anne Baldassari's researches in the Dora Maar archives have uncovered 25 negatives, seemingly never developed by the photographer, which record the magical chemistry of this first private meeting between the two artists. As we see Picasso shedding his winter street attire, we can sense him thawing both physically and emotionally before the implacable yet mesmerising gaze of Maar's camera.

Not surprisingly, photography was to circumscribe the first years of Picasso's and Maar's affair.

It was possibly around March 1936 when Maar brought her camera to the Chateau de Boisgeloup, a country house Picasso had purchased near Gisors, to the north-west of Paris. Here, after sitting again for the photographer, Picasso took Maar's camera and shot his own portraits of the woman who had begun to captivate him.

These intimate portraits, which document the flowering of a new love, remained in Picasso's private collection - where they inspired numerous drawings and paintings that pay homage to Maar. They also served as the basis for a remarkable group of painted, collaged and photographically developed works that Picasso now created with Maar's assistance.




Portrait of Dora Maar.



Dora Maar by Man Ray.





The first step in the creation of these photo-engravings involved Picasso painting outline portraits of Dora onto sheets of glass. As Maar herself recalled, "He spread a thick layer of oil paint on the glass and then drew lines in the paint with a knife blade - a process like engraving - and thereby obtained a negative." By placing various objects - such as textured strips of cloth, or even items of jewellery - between these painted glass plates and sheets of light-sensitive photographic paper, as well as following Maar's guidance in varying the degrees of light exposure employed in the photographic studio, Picasso was able to create a fascinating series of unique new mixed-media compositions.

As the romance between these two talented artists deepened, Maar entered into the already-established rhythm of Picasso's working life - long summers spent seeking the sun in the south of France, alternating with work-fuelled winters back in the creative hub of Paris. Picasso was used to passing his summers in the Riviera among a community of friends, who often stayed together at the Pension Vaste Horizon in Mougins, near Cannes. Here Picasso and Maar were joined by Paul Eluard and his wife Nusch, Man Ray and his partner Ady, Roland and Valentine Penrose, and Lee Miller among others.

The aquatic, sun-drenched setting of these summer holidays formed the perfect backdrop for the couple to celebrate their love by visualising each other in the guise of ancient gods and goddesses.

Between 1936 and 1938 Picasso appears in many of his works as a mythologised satyr, faun or minotaur. Maar is not infrequently seen as a ravishing (or ravished) Venus, compliant within the painter's lustful embrace. Or, echoing her love of sporting long, brightly-coloured fingernails, she is imaged as a variety of taloned mythological creatures - sphinx, siren, minotauresse. For her part, Maar took delight in photographing Picasso on the beach at Mougins, posing as her own personal minotaur with the bleached skull of a bull.

Despite the lyricism and buoyancy of many of Picasso's images of Dora, and Dora's images of Picasso, made during their first two idyllic summers together at Saint-Tropez and Mougins, a dark shadow of world events soon encroached upon their developing romance. The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936 saw Picasso's country of birth riven by conflict between the forces of the democratically elected Popular Front or Republican government, and the armies of the fascist leader General Franco.








In January 1937 Picasso moved into a new studio in a 17th-century building at 7 Rue des Grands-Augustins in Paris's 6th arrondissement. It was here, in a studio on the building's top floor, that the artist painted his most celebrated canvas, and one of the most recognised works of the 20th century, Guernica.

Although Picasso had long lived in France, the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War nonetheless affected him deeply. Members of his immediate family, residing in Malaga and Barcelona, were threatened by the conflict, and his nephews were soon serving in the Spanish Republican army. On January 19, 1937, Picasso's birthplace, the small town of Malaga in Andalusia, came under attack from Italian fascist forces working in league with General Franco. As the town was besieged over the following weeks, thousands of its citizens were slaughtered.

Around this time Picasso had accepted a commission from the Spanish Republican government, to paint a large mural for the Spanish pavilion that was to be constructed for the Paris World's Fair, planned for the summer of 1937. While the artist considered various ideas for this massive mural, which was to measure 3.5 by nearly 8 metres, further horrific events unfolded in his native Spain.

Late in the afternoon of April 26, 1937, at the behest of Franco's Nationalist forces, dozens of German aircraft brought the full might of the Nazi war machine to bear upon the Basque town of Guernica. This carefully planned attack upon a civilian target, timed for the town's market day and orchestrated, with alternating bombing and strafing attacks, to massacre the maximum number of Guernica's defenceless citizens, shocked the world.




Images of Dora Marr and her photographs





Galvanized by his own grief for the calamitous events overtaking his homeland, on May 1, 1937, Picasso began a series of emblematic sketches that reflected his anguish and powerlessness in the face of such senseless warfare. A wounded horse, a dead warrior, a woman rushing forward futilely with a lamp lit against the enveloping darkness, another woman wailing over the body of a dead child clutched to her breast, yet another woman crying to the heavens before a backdrop of burning buildings - gradually these motifs coalesced, in a few short weeks in May to June 1937, into the emblematic panorama of Picasso's monochromatic anti-war masterpiece, Guernica. Guernica is arguably the most powerful and poignant painting of the 20th century, and the supreme example of the use of art as political protest.

Shortly after Picasso had occupied his loft studio at 7 rue des Grands-Augustins, Maar also moved into new living quarters in Paris's 6th arrondissement, at 6 rue de Savoie.

Dora's new apartment, which she was to occupy until her death in 1997, was only a stroll away from Picasso's studio. In late 1935 Picasso, interviewed by Christian Zervos for the journal Cahiers d'art, had remarked how: "It would be very interesting to preserve photographically, not the stages but the metamorphoses of a picture. Possibly one might then discover the path followed by the brain in materialising a dream." Just as Maar's emotional closeness to Picasso led to her being invited to record the normally private domain of the artist at work, so too did her physical proximity to his studio now enable her photographically to document the creation of Picasso's masterpiece.



A selection of Maar's photographs, articulating eight main states in the development of Guernica's final composition, were published in Cahiers d'art in July 1937, coinciding with the official unveiling of Picasso's monumental canvas in the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris World's Fair. Negatives and prints newly discovered in Maar's estate, however, enable an even greater understanding of the genesis of this masterwork.

Contemporary newspaper and newsreel coverage of the atrocity perpetrated at Guernica have been argued for as influences upon the stark blacks, whites and greys employed by Picasso for his massive protest against the inhumanity of warfare. However, the daily scrutiny of Maar's black-and-white photographs of his work, and of himself at work, surely also contributed to Picasso's retention of a palette of sombre news reportage for Guernica's otherwise strident visual cry of outrage.

Even after Guernica had left the Grands-Augustins studio for installation at the World's Fair, Picasso continued to pour his rage into works that commented on the horror of war. In early July, while the citizens of Paris enjoyed the summer sunshine and the delights of the fair, he made some etchings that explored the motif of a solitary weeping woman.

This was developed in subsequent watercolours and drawings, and in a now-celebrated series of paintings of this haunting image. The National Gallery of Victoria's Weeping Woman was painted on October 18, 1937, on the same day as a variant painting of the same motif in the Musee Picasso (and seen in the Love and War exhibition). Strong purples and acidic greens dominate both paintings, which are at once related, yet completely different in their technical execution and graphic expression of this emotive subject.




Man Ray's portrait of Dora Marr - 1936.





Maar's strikingly sultry features were used in part as a model for the Weeping Woman compositions, but to read these works as portraits of Dora in distress is far too simplistic. Picasso's weeping women are complex and universal symbols of unrestrained passion, which can be read in numerous ways - as modern variants of the ancient Christian motif of the Virgin Mary mourning her dead son Jesus Christ (the Mater Dolorosa, represented in several late medieval paintings in the NGV's collection). They might also be read as personifications of Mother Spain torn apart by civil war - even perhaps as self-portraits of Picasso's own grief for his homeland, partially mediated through the features of his beloved muse Dora.

Related drawings from this period show the Weeping Woman's eyes literally popping out on stalks, unable physically to absorb the horrific atrocities that they have witnessed.

Around 1939 Picasso scribbled a haiku-like poem upon the blank surface of a matchbox - Il faisait tellement noir a midi qu'on voyait les etoiles - It was so dark that at midday you could see the stars. Saved for posterity by Maar, this tiny poem seems today to encapsulate the sombre storms of European politics and war that were to engulf the middle and late years of the couple's decade-long relationship.




 Nude Study: woman sitting behind mirror by Dora Maar. Other pre-Picasso photographic work can be seen HERE.





Not long after the declaration of war between France and Germany in September 1939, Hitler's forces overran the French countryside. By June 1940 the Nazi forces had occupied Paris. Picasso now found himself in an awkward and even dangerous position. As a pro-Republican sympathiser, and creator of the great anti-war statement Guernica, he could not return to his native Spain, which was now controlled by the fascist dictator Franco. Yet, in German-occupied France, where he had sought but failed to take out citizenship, he was both an alien and an artist who had been classified as "degenerate" by the Nazi regime, which was vehemently opposed to most forms of modern art.

Picasso ceased to hold one-man exhibitions during the occupation years, concentrating upon working in the solitude of his studio with whatever materials came to hand, from newspapers to fossicked pieces of scrap.

As a "degenerate" artist, Picasso's studio was subject to inspection by the Gestapo, and he and Maar experienced the agony of watching helplessly as Jewish friends such as Sonia Mosse and Robert Desnos were rounded up and transported to certain death in Nazi concentration camps.

In this climate of oppression and terror, Picasso pushed his deformations of the human body to an extreme degree - one that, Anne Baldassari suggests, seemed to promote disfigurement in deliberate opposition to Hitler's notions of Aryan racial perfection and purity.




Pablo Picasso - Dora Maar with a Crown of Flowers - 1937.





A series of still-lifes, often painted at night in these dark Parisian winters, depict skulls, candles and wilting legumes - bleak yet bluntly beautiful reminders of the transience and impermanence of all existence. Skull and skeletal images were to surface repeatedly in Picasso's art in the war period.

Indeed, during the enforced introspection of these bleak years he was to produce some of art's greatest still life and allegorical compositions, both reinvigorating the traditional vanitas imagery of the old masters and forging strangely disturbing responses to the unfolding, nightmarish revelations of the shocking facts of the Holocaust.




Dora Maar on vaction in Antibes with Picasso and Ady in 1937. Photo by Man Ray.





The strains of life under the Nazi occupation of Paris did not help the cracks that now began to appear in Picasso's and Maar's relationship. By 1943 Picasso's eye had begun to stray. In March that year he met another captivating young artist, a 21-year-old painter named Franoise Gilot, who would gradually occupy Picasso's undivided attention.

According to Gilot's memoirs, this new affair was consummated not long before Allied forces liberated Paris from German rule in August 1944.








In the months that followed liberation, Picasso found himself challenged in both his private and public realms. At the Salon d'Automne, the Autumn Salon, in Paris, a special showing of the art Picasso had created during the war years, intended as celebratory, was subjected to physical attack by conservative youths who had come to embrace right-wing politics during France's occupation. Police were brought in to guard the exhibition.

At the same time, Picasso's relationship with Maar was increasingly fragmenting, leading to the couple's final separation in the summer of 1945.

Dora's health had suffered, leading to a breakdown in the spring of 1945. After one last summer together, at the Cap d'Antibes in July of that year, Picasso purchased a house for Dora at Menerbes, an act that in hindsight seems to have signalled the end of their physical relationship.

While the couple were to lead separate lives after this point, the visual and intellectual impact of the decade in which they shared their creative energies was to increasingly inform our world on innumerable levels. The operatic panorama of Anne Baldassari's exhibition, Picasso: Love & War 1935-1945, reilluminates the incandescent genius of each of these remarkable artists.









Gerard Vaughan is the director of the National Gallery of Victoria.

Picasso: Love & War 1935-1945 opens on June 30 until October 8, at NGV International, open daily from 10am to 5pm, closed Tuesdays.










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