Dora Maar (1909-1997)

Dora Maar certainly merited a page in the book by Rosalind Krauss, Jane Livingston and Dawn Ades published for the Corcoran Gallery’s 1985 show, L’amour Fou: Photography & Surrealism, a thoroughgoing examination of the role of photography in the Surrealist movement, which I saw the following year in London’s Hayward Gallery.

But the page – a brief biography, ends with the statement “(Dora Maar has declined permission to reproduce her photographs in this book.)” Maar was then 76, and the reasons for her refusal are not known, though she had given up photography over 40 years earlier and turned to painting. She does appear in the book’s pictures, but only as the subject for a well-known solarised portrait by Man Ray.

Should one want to speculate on Maar’s reasons, the biography by Mary Ann Caws, Dora Maar With And Without Picasso: A Biography, published in 2000, three years after Maar’s death aged 89 might offer clues. I’ve not read it, but there is an interesting edited extract online from The Guardian.

Maar’s work undoubtedly would have been a valuable addition to that book and show, certainly rather more central to it than some that was included. You can judge for yourself on the web in Venice : Dora Maar Despite Picasso, and  Dora Maar – Photographer and Muse. There is also a page from Wikipedia worth reading (and states she returned to photography in the 1980s) which has some further links, including to A World History of Art.

The video from the Cleveland Museum of Art,  Artist Spotlight: Dora Maar || Forbidden Games: Surrealist and Modernist Photography which prompted this post is in some respects curious and perhaps unfortunately shows rather little of her work and rather too much of “art collector and filmmaker David Raymond, whose once-beloved photograph are now owned and on view at the Cleveland Museum of Art as part of the exhibition, Forbidden Games: Surrealist and Modernist Photography, “, on view there until 11 Jan 2015,  entry free.

My thanks to Peggy Sue Amison for posting a link to this video on Facebook.

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