Dora Maar, to me, was purely Picasso's muse, one of Picasso's muses, actually. The weeping woman, to be exact, with her dismembered and shattered face, the very icon of Cubism.
But Dora Maar was first and foremost an artist: a photographer, so talented that Man Ray refused to hire her because, as he told her, “there is nothing I can teach you”.
Of Croatian origin, raised in Buenos Aires and landing in Paris to study photography, Henrietta Theodora Markovic (as per the register office) begins with the most revolutionary gesture: she changes her name and seeks a new identity.
Thus was born Dora Maar, and in the early Thirties her fame among surrealists was already solidified.
It is her friend Paul Eluard who introduces her to Picasso, in ‘35, and this meeting forever alters her path: he urges her to leave photography behind, which he considers a lesser art, in favour of painting, only to humiliate her in an impossible comparison.
For Dora, painting is a betrayal, as is posing for him: “I must confess that if I had ordered my portrait, I would maybe not have been totally satisfied”.
Ten years alongside Picasso, trailing Picasso, despite Picasso.
Did she thus give up her art? Never quite, really.
When Picasso leaves her, Dora takes her camera back and starts all over again, without ever leaving painting: the forgotten muse and the never fully dormant artist coexist until death.
Nature moerte au réveil (1938) by Dora MaarLa Galleria Nazionale
Voice message by Anna Siccardi, writer and art historian.