Dora Maar led an extraordinary life stretching the length of the twentieth century, and shared a crucial period of it with its most prominent artist, Pablo Picasso. But she was a remarkable personality in her own right, a brilliant intellectual and muse of the Surrealists in the Paris of the 1930’s, she was also a talented photographer and painter, the full extent of which was not recognised until an entire unseen body of work was discovered in her apartment after her death in 1997. Hanina Fine Arts is delighted to have obtained from the artist’s estate a remarkable selection of her geometric paintings created from the 1960’s. Characterised by flat surfaces of vibrant colour, these paintings are instilled with great vitality through the dynamic lineal divisions, in the tradition of the “Simultaneous Contrasts” of Delaunay. What Picasso did with a mandolin, a fruit-bowl or the human figure, Maar did with light itself, cutting it up and piecing it together again in a new way.
Born Henriette Theodora Markovitch in 1907, Maar had a Croatian father who was a successful architect and when she was three his work took the family to Buenos Aires where they lived until 1926. Upon her return to Paris she studied photography and frequented the Académie Julian and André Lhote’s studio. In the early thirties she shared a studio with Brassaï, and began to establish a reputation for herself. In 1936 she met André Breton and started to participate in the Surrealist group’s activities, and exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In the same year the 29 year old Maar first encountered the then 55 year old Picasso. Over the next few years she became his lover and intimately witnessed his turbulent creativity, she was the only person Picasso allowed to see and record all the successive stages of his monumental “Guernica”.
Although initially Maar was undoubtedly intoxicated by Picasso’s artistic stature, in the years after their love affair ended in 1943 she developed a powerful abstract style of her own, culminating in her Geometric compositions. Her personal talent was widely acclaimed and she exhibited at prominent Parisian galleries Jeanne Bucher and Pierre Loeb, as well as the Leicester Galleries in London. In her later years she lived a reclusive life and her work remained at her home at 6 rue de Savoie, in Paris, unseen by anyone. Only after her death has the full extent of her talent come to light, and from the evidence of these paintings there can be no doubt that Dora Maar was not only an exceptional woman but also a great artist, and in Picasso’s own words, a “grand peintre”. A major exhibition of her work is to be held at the Centre Pompidou in 2019.