More than Picasso’s muse: Tate Modern shows Dora Maar

Around 20 of Dora Maar's little-known paintings, including La

With a wide-ranging retrospective, London’s Tate Modern museum is paying to tribute to the photographer and painter Dora Maar, who was commonly regarded as the muse and model of Pablo Picasso.

To put an end to this cliche, the show “Dora Maar” presents more than 200 works from the artist’s 60-year career: From radical street photography to surrealist photomontages to paintings. Many key aspects of her work are still relatively unknown, the Tate Modern explains.

Maar, who was born Henriette Theodora Markovitch in Paris in 1907, was the child of a French mother and a Croatian architect and spent some of her childhood in Argentina.

She turned to photography after studying art in Paris and founded her own studio there as early as 1931. That made her “one of the first women to make use of the new possibilities of advertising and the illustrated press,” according to the museum.

Her innovative approach to photomontage and collage, as well as daring nudes for the time, shaped her style. Maar was a member of various intellectual and artistic circles in Paris and her photographs were shown in surrealist exhibitions and publications.

The artist met Picasso in Paris in the winter of 1935/36. As the exhibition shows, she was instrumental in the creation of his famous painting “Guernica.” He also immortalized his lover in the “Weeping Woman” series of portraits.

Around 20 of Dora Maar’s little-known paintings, including “La Conversation” and “La Cage” – both privately owned – can be seen in the show. According to the Tate, the exhibition throws a new light on the “dynamics between the two artists during the turbulent war years”.

The Tate’s director Frances Morris, who met the artist in her Paris studio in 1990, seven years before her death, says: “I think art was more important to her than her public image.”