Art + Science: Art of Healing: Dora Maar
Dora Maar (1907-1997) was a French artist and poet. At age 19, she attended photography school and studied alongside Henri Cartier-Bresson. In the 1930’s, she became an integral member within the surrealist circles, using photography as a medium to explore the unconscious and fantasy realms. In the darkroom, she examined recurring surrealist motifs (for example hair, shells, spirals, and shadows) giving photography a new aesthetic and context. During this time, her work hung in Paris galleries alongside the work of Man Ray and Salvador Dalí.
In 1935, her life took a turn when she met Pablo Picasso, becoming his lover and muse. Since 1937, Maar has been destined to live in the shadow of Picasso, being immortalized as Picasso’s “Weeping Woman.”
After nine years, Maar and Picasso ended their relationship. She struggled with depression and suffered a nervous breakdown. After undergoing electroshock therapy in a psychiatric hospital, she recovered, although the extent of her full recovery is not clear. Withdrawing from public life, she found solace in painting (mainly abstract landscapes and melancholy still lives), poetry and religion.
At the end of her life, Maar had been largely forgotten. It wasn’t until her death in 1997 that art historians were finally able to examine her work in full. Since her death, there have been exhibits in Europe presenting her as an artist in her own right.
Yet, there seems to be current shift in the air as her work and legacy is coming into the limelight once again. In 2019, her work will be included in a group exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In 2019-2020, The Tate Modern will feature the largest retrospective of Dora Maar ever held in the UK.
As fate has it, Maar’s work had been overshadowed during her lifetime. Yet, with current exhibitions on the horizon and a renewed look at success, perhaps it’s never too late to heal from the wounds of unclaimed valor.
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