Mary Ann Caws
Dora Maar With & Without Picasso: A Biography
Picasso first saw Dora Maar across the Cafe des Deux Magots, where she was sitting alone stabbing the wooden table top between her gloved fingers with a penknife. Poised, beautiful and dramatically unconventional, Dora Maar was the former lover of Georges Bataille and a successful young photographer who produced some disturbingly powerful Surrealist images as well as reportage, portraits and fashion photography.
She was to be Picasso’s lover and muse for seven years. In that time she photographed him at work and play, in the studio and on the beach, alone or with friends such as Man Ray, Andre Breton, Jacqueline Lamba, and Paul Eluard. In earl 1938 she created a unique photographic record of the painting of Guernica, Picasso’s searing protest against the carnage of the Spanish Civil War. Dora’s own features were immortalized in the lamp bearing woman in Guernica and in the harrowing distortions of the Weeping Woman, the image in which Picasso achieved his most acute expression of the public and private anguish of those years.
Their relationship was stormy, and in 1943 reached a painful end. Dora was supported through the traumatic aftermath by her friend Jacques Lacan and went on to outlive Picasso by a quarter of a century. But almost nothing was known of her in those years, for she lived as a religious recluse, painting and writing poetry behind a veil of fiercely guarded privacy; ‘after Picasso, only God’, she once said. As a result, her story acquired an almost mythic tone. She was seen as the tragic muse, a woman forever shattered by the cruel genius Picasso. Mary Ann Caws tells a different story. This book places Dora Maar’s time with Picasso in the scope of a life of ninety years. It talks not about a myth, but about a charismatic, deeply intelligent woman and artist whose recognition is long overdue.