The UK’s first Dora Maar retrospective
You’ve got just over a month left to see the most comprehensive retrospective of one of the most celebrated icons of surrealism – Dora Maar.
Running until 15 March at the Tate Modern, the exhibition explores the breadth of Maar's six-decade career in the context of her contemporaries.
Model in Swimsuit 1936, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2019
Untitled (Hand-Shell) 1934. Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris. Photo © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / image Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2019
Born Henriette Théodora Markovitch, Dora Maar grew up between Argentina and Paris and studied decorative arts and painting before switching to photography. This move saw Maar became part of a generation of women who seized the new professional opportunities offered by advertising and the illustrated press.
Made up of more than 200 photographs and photomontages, Tate Modern’s exhibition opens with examples of Maar’s commissioned works. She set up a studio with film set designer Pierre Kéfer in 1931, specialising in portraiture, fashion photography and advertising, which resulted in works such as The years lie in wait for you c.1935. Believed to be an advertising project for face cream that Maar made by overlaying two negatives, this is just one example of Maar’s innovative approach to constructing images through staging, photomontage and collage.
Bold nude studies such as that of famed model Assia Granatouroff are also examples of her handling of taboo genres such as erotica and nude photography.
In the winter of 1935–6 Maar met Pablo Picasso and their relationship of around eight years had a profound effect on both their careers. She documented the creation of his most political work Guernica 1937, offering insight into his working process, and he painted her many times, including Weeping Woman 1937. This exhibition sheds new light on the dynamic between the two artists through rarely seen, privately-owned canvases and never-before exhibited negatives from the Dora Maar collection at the Musée National d’art Moderne.
The exhibition also includes more than 20 works from the little-known second half of Maar’s life when she gradually withdrew from artistic circles, before concluding with some camera-less photographs that she made in the 1980s. Four decades after all but abandoning the medium, Maar returned to her darkroom for this fitting finale.
Untitled (Fashion photograph) c. 1935. Collection Therond © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2019
Untitled c. 1933. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Richard and Ronay Menschel Fund for the Acquisition of Photographs © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2019
The years lie in wait for you c. 1935, The William Talbott Hillman Collection © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2019