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Excelsior Modes Summer 1936 Dress by Jeanne Lanvin

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Publique in 1934. Maar’s images sometimes evoke the work of other photographers, including Man Ray, Raoul Ubac, Henri Cartier-Bresson or the painter Giorgio de Chirico. Yet her idiosyncratic vision, combined with cropping, close-ups, angled shots and plunging perspectives, as well as occasional burning and scratching of her negatives, lent her creative work its distinctive essence. “[she was] a remarkable photographer”, said Cartier-Bresson in 1994, adding that her work always had something “striking and mysterious”. It was through advertising that Maar first experimented with surrealist photomontage. In one advertisement for Pétrole Hahn hair oil, ripples of wavy blonde hair pour out from the bottle turned on its side; in another a miniature ship sails along the waves of hair as though on a storm-tossed sea. The first image was reproduced in Charles Peignot’s celebrated Arts et Métiers Graphiques, a graphic arts magazine that also published Publicité and Photographie, annual surveys on advertising and photography. Maar’s images appeared in the latter alongside masters like André Kertész, Lazló Moholy-Nagy, Albert Renger-Patsch and Germaine Krull just as the centre of European avant-garde photography shifted from Berlin to Paris in the early 1930s. Harry Meerson, a Polish-born fashion photographer, assisted Maar’s early career as did Emmanuel Sougez: “…I’m grateful above all to Sougez … [he] was a key influence, an excellent photographer”, Dora Maar said in 1995. A champion of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), the unembellished style that sprang up in 1920s Germany, exemplified in the Film und Foto exhibition in Stuttgart in 1929, Sougez founded the photographic department at the weekly journal L’Illustration in 1927. Maar’s simple yet sensuous nudes, emphasising curves of form with light and shade, reveal her mentor’s impact, turning away from soft-lensed, painterly traditions that prevailed in French photography. Her formal yet sensitive study of arum lilies echoes work by Imogen Cunningham, the Californian modernist. In an advertisement for bathing suits, Maar superimposes a model as though floating gracefully in the water, its surface breaking up with ripples and reflections - one of the aesthetic themes of the modernist movement. Like Lee Miller in the late 1920s, Maar asked Man Ray if she might work as his photographic assistant. Unlike Miller, May Ray refused but offered advice should she need it. “I later knew him better in Surrealist circles”, she said. Indeed, a Man Ray snapshot from 1935 shows Maar on a weekend in © 2016 Rizzoli International Publications. All Rights Reserved.


Jacqueline Lamba by Dora Maar, Saint-Jean-aux-Bois, September 1935. Gelatin silver contact print.

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Jacqueline Lamba by Dora Maar, Saint-Jean-aux-Bois, September 1935. Gelatin silver contact print.

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Jacqueline Lamba by Dora Maar, Saint-Jean-aux-Bois, September 1935. Gelatin silver contact print.


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Chapter 3

F E M M E FATA L E AND THE SURREALIST

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Jacqueline Lamba by Dora Maar, Saint-Jean-aux-Bois, September 1935. Gelatin silver contact print.

Š 2016 Rizzoli International Publications. All Rights Reserved.

Jacqueline Lamba by Dora Maar, Saint-Jean-aux-Bois, September 1935. Gelatin silver contact print.


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Jacqueline Lamba by Dora Maar, Saint-Jean-aux-Bois, September 1935. Gelatin silver contact print.


Chapter 4

LIFE WITH PICASSO: LOV E A N D WA R

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On July 18th 1936, news reached Paris of civil war in Spain between the Republican government and insurgent Nationalists, led by General Franco. Pressed by both Eluard and Maar during lengthy conversations, the formerly apolitical Picasso took an antifascist stand, publicly siding with the Republicans. “Dora was far more politically aware and committed than my father. He found this exciting”, explains Claude Picasso, the artist’s son with Maar’s successor, Françoise Gilot. In mid-August, Picasso drove down to Cannes with Marcel, his chauffeur, in his HispanoSuiza. Lise Deharme meanwhile invited Dora to Les Salins, her villa in Saint-Tropez, where Paul and Nusch Eluard, Cécile (his daughter from his first marriage with Gala), the English artist and Surrealist champion Roland Penrose, and and Christian and Yvonne Zervos were fellow guests. On learning that Dora had arrived, Picasso drove over to see her. “After lunch [Picasso and Dora] disappeared together to walk along the beach”, wrote Roland Penrose. “He spoke to her honestly, explaining all the complications in his life and the the existence of the little girl Maya.” In a symbolic drawing dated 1st August XXXVI while still in Paris, Picasso portrays himself as a naked classical god in all his glory, a staff in hand, with a dog on his knees. A diminutive Dora enters the scene through a door, modestly attired in a suit and headscarf. “… What have I dared embark upon by entering into your life?”, she telegraphed Picasso on August 12th, in response to some words he had written her. Towards the end of August, Picasso and Maar drove to Mougins, where they spent three summers between 1936 and 1938. The Eluards, Roland Penrose and his wife Valentine (he would bring Lee Miller the following year); Man Ray and his girlfriend Ady Fidelin, a beautiful model and dancer from Guadeloupe; the Zervos’s, the poets René Char and Joseph Bard, the English artist Eileen Agar and a stream of other visitors joined them. They stayed at the modest Hôtel Vaste

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Jacqueline Lamba by Dora Maar, Saint-Jean-aux-Bois, September 1935. Gelatin silver contact print.


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Dora Maar  

A new book from Rizzoli. ISBN: 978-0-8478-5853-8 On sale: 3/21/17

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