Saturday, March 8, 2014

Dora Maar - DESPITE PICASSO - Women Artists Welcome Spring 2014 at Palazzo Fortuny

Dora Maar 
Picasso debout travaillant à Guernica dans son atelier des Grands-Augustins, 1937
Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
© Dora Maar, by SIAE 2013
photo credit: Archivo Fotografico Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid
(Venice, Italy) Only Dora Maar, the beautiful, enigmatic photographer, was allowed to document the progression of Pablo Picasso's masterpiece, Guernica, which he painted in response to the bombing of the Basque village during the Spanish Civil war in 1937. Maar was 28-years-old and established as an artist in her own right when she met the 54-year-old Picasso in 1936, and became his lover, muse, confidante and artistic companion. When their nine-year relationship ended, the sensitive soul underwent years of intense psychotherapy, recovered and lived to the age of 89, always haunted by the memory of Picasso.

Assia by Dora Maar, 1934 
Parigi, Centre Pompidou,
Musée national d'art moderne/Centre de création industrielle
© Dora Maar by SIAE 2014
Dora Maar - Despite Picasso at the Fortuny Museum spotlights the work of the extraordinary artist who captured images of the poor in Paris, endowing them with dignity, and whose mystical Surrealistic photographs earned her a special place among the artists in Paris at the time.

Dora Maar 
Vendeuses et vendeur riant derrière leur étal de charcuterie, 1933
© Dora Maar, by SIAE 2014
© Joan Marques
Henriette Theodora Markovitch, who shortened her name to Dora Maar, was born in Paris on November 22, 1907, and grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her father was a well-known Croatian architect, and her mother was French. She returned to Paris with her family at the age of 19, and joined the Academy of André Lhoteein Paris in 1927, where she met and formed a friendship with Henri Cartier-Bresson. She studied at the École de Photographie de la Ville de Paris, but it was the photographer Emmanuel Sougez who taught her the technical aspects of the medium. She earned her first commissioned works in 1928 at the age of 20, and worked as assistant to Harry Ossip Meerson in 1930.

Dora Maar 
No Dole, Work wanted (Pas d´aumône. Je veux du travail), Londres, 1934
Parigi, collezione privata
© Dora Maar, by SIAE 2014
Photo credit: Xavier GRANDSART
Maar was deeply moved by the Great Depression of 1929, and the effect it had on the poor. Her gaze is sometimes compassionate, and sometimes ironic, as in the photo of an impeccable gentleman selling matches and holding a card that reads: "I lost everything in business."

Dora Maar 
29, rue d´Astorg, 1936 circa
Parigi, Centre Pompidou,
Musée national d'art moderne/Centre de création industrielle
© Dora Maar by SIAE 2014
Daar's political involvement coincided with her joining the Surrealist group; in addition to taking the side of the deprived, she was fascinated by the magical and the supernatural, and attracted by the Surrealists' focus on automatic thinking, folly, children's art, the primitive world and eroticism. Her talent was "revealing the strangeness of everyday life." Maar alternated experimental photography with commercial work, producing portraits, nudes, landscapes, fashion and advertising photographs, and street scenes in Paris, Barcelona and London.

Man Ray 
Ady Fidelin, Marie Cuttoli et son mari, Man Ray, Picasso et Dora Maar assis sur les marches d'un parc, 1937
© Man Ray Trust/ Adagp, Paris
© RMN – Grand Palais / Franck Raux
Maar was stunning, passionate and intensely intelligent; in the intellectual and artistic circles she traveled in Paris, it was inevitable that her path would cross with Pablo Picasso's. They had friends in common, including Man Ray, who photographed her, Andre Bréton, the founder of the Surrealist Movement, and Paul Eluard, the poet.

On January 7, 1936 Paul Eluard introduced Dora Maar to to the legendary Pablo Picasso at the Café les Deux Magots. Picasso was married, but estranged from his wife, the Russian ballerina Olga Khokhlova, and had a new-born daughter with his mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter, who would later hang herself four years after his death.

Portrait de Dora Maar aux petites mains, by Man Ray, 1936
New York, Collezione Debra e Jean Bensadoun
Photo credit: Alister Alexander /Camerarts
Picasso was fascinated by Maar, who was not only a brilliant photographer, a creative thinker and a beautiful woman, her Argentinian youth also made her fluent in Spanish. In 1935 and 1936, her work appeared in a succession of exhibitions: at the Surrealist exhibition of Tenerife, the Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism exhibition in New York, the Objets Surréalistes exhibition at the Charles Ratton gallery and the International Surrealist exhibition in London. Maar's photography and the experimental techniques she used were a source of inspiration to Picasso. They began an artistic collaboration and passionate love affair that would last until 1945.

The Weeping Woman by Picasso, 1937, Tate Collection
In addition to working with Picasso as he began Guernica and through its completion -- Maar's step-by-step photographic documentation of the masterpiece is part of the current exhibition -- Dora Maar was the model for Picasso's renowned Weeping Woman, an image which he obsessed over; it would appear in about 60 drawings, prints and paintings throughout 1937. (That image above is not part of the exhibition; I am including it for illustrative purposes.) Picasso said:

"For me she's the weeping woman. For years I've painted her in tortured forms, not through sadism, and not with pleasure, either; just obeying a vision that forced itself on me. It was the deep reality, not the superficial one."

Tête de Femme (Dora Maar) by Pablo Picasso, 1939
Artemundi Group, courtesy of Javier Lumbreras
Photo credit: Jorge Parra
© Pablo Picasso by SIAE 2014

Dora Maar had a nervous breakdown when the relationship ended, and became a recluse who delved into the Catholic religion. In 1958, she traveled to Venice in the company of the American author, James Lord. She died in 1997 at the age of 89. According to the National Gallery of Victoria, after her death:

"... it was discovered that Dora Maar had kept everything connected to her relationship with Picasso, such as her Rolleiflex camera that was central to her commercial photographic practice, and therefore instrumental in Picasso's dynamic experiments with photography. Other objects included a fragment of stained paper labelled Picasso's blood, a magical sculpture of her beloved terrier torn from a napkin by her lover, and a copy of L'Humanite from 5 October 1944 announcing Picasso's allegiance to the French Communist Party. The personalised nature of these precious objects provided new and intriguing insights into Picasso's inventive art practice, as well as one of the most artistically inspiring relationships of the 20th century."

Ritsue Mishima, 
Argo, 2013
Photo credit: Francesco Barasciutti
In addition to the Dora Maar exhibition, included in this year's Spring at Palazzo Fortuny are three other female artists, as well as the all-woman Amazons of photography from the collection of Mario Trevisan.

The works of the Japanese glass artist, Ritsue Mishima, are scattered throughout the Dora Maar - Despite Picasso exhibition, which, itself, is on the first floor, and entwined with the permanent Fortuny pieces on display, creating an exciting environment. Tras Forma presents Ritsue Mishima's latest creations based on the thousand-year-old tradition of making glass in Venice, and after a careful analysis of the modus operandi of Mariano Fortuny.

Barbara Paganin 
Spilla n.12, 2011 – 2013
Argento ossidato, ritratto smaltato su rame, vetro, porcellana, quarzo di luna, oro
Fotografia di Alice Pavesi Fiori
Also on the first floor, inside the long glass cabinet near the back, is Open Memory by Barbara Paganin, an exhibition that presents "brooches" which draw their inspiration from the past. After searching through the antique shops of Venice to find whimsical objects such as good luck charms, 19th-century miniatures, ivory elephants and other tiny treasures, Paganin then arranged the memorabilia to create 25 different stories.

Anne-Karin Furunes 
Crystal Images VII, 2013
Archivio Fortuny, 1910 ca.
tela dipinta e perforata
With Shadows, the Norwegian artist, Anne-Karin Furunes, has the second floor all to herself, spotlighting the enormous painted-canvas-and-perforated images of anonymous faces she found in archival photos that are her inspiration. From a distance, the images are almost solid, but as you approach, the faces dissolve into a mass of pointillistic dots. At Palazzo Fortuny, Furunes had the opportunity to dig through the photo archives stored in the palace, and became fascinated by Fortuny's interest in the effect of light. 

Diane Arbu
Patriotic Young Man with a Flag, N.Y.C., N.Y.C. 1967
Mart, Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto
Collezione M. Trevisan
The Amazons of photography from the collection of Mario Trevisan claims the ground floor of Palazzo Fortuny, showcasing some of the top female photographers the world has known. If women have excelled in one artistic medium in particular, it is photography. Their unique vision captures an image in startling contrast to the traditional male approach. Italo Zannier, the curator of the show, writes: 

" has also liberated [women] from some difficult manual aspects that for a long time were considered the prerogative of men, offering itself above all as an abstract, conceptual poetic language."

The Venetian Mario Trevisan has collected many of the great gals, from the contemporary Diane Arbus, Nan Golden and Cindy Sherman, to Julia Margaret Cameron working in the 1870s. Also on display are photographs by Lisette Model, a Jewish Austrian who moved to the United States at the outbreak of the Second World War where she opened her famous school of photography, and whose best known pupil was Diane Arbus.

Spring at Palazzo Fortuny opened today, International Women's Day, and is a MUST SEE.


Doro Maar

Anne-Karin Furunes

Ritsue Mishima

Barbara Paganin

From the Collection of Mario Trevisan

March 8 to July 14, 2014

Please click Palazzo Fortuny for more information.

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. Only Dora Maar, the beautiful, enigmatic photographer, was allowed to document the progression of Pablo Picasso's masterpiece, Guernica, which he painted in response to the bombing of the Basque village during the Spanish Civil war in 1937.