Dora Maar, ‘Ship Deck Abstraction’, 1930s/1930s, Contemporary Works/Vintage Works

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. 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 semi-monastic life devoted to mystical experience, she began exhibiting her paintings again during the 1950s. Towards the end of her life, she renounced her earlier association with Surrealism.

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.

Signature: Photographer's oval 'DM' estate stamp on verso.

About Dora Maar

Dora Maar’s artistic career is often overshadowed by her role in Pablo Picasso’s work, as both his frequent model and muse and the documentarian of the making of his Guernica (1937). Maar had an active and respected career as an avant-garde photographer and Surrealist artist. A prominent member of the Parisian avant-garde, her friends and lovers included Georges Bataille, Yves Tanguy, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and André Breton. Maar had originally studied painting but turned to photography after modeling for Man Ray’s photographs. She produced portraits, nudes, landscapes, fashion photographs, and photomontages. Her montages frequently featured strong architectural elements and narratives. Among Surrealist circles, she was applauded for her understanding of the movement’s emphasis on naturalism; Maar also wrote poetry.

French, 1907-1997