by Jacqui Palumbo
In the annals of art history, Dora Maar has been hiding in plain sight. Her life, a complex bulletin board of push-pins and strings to many of the great 20th-century creators, is most often defined by the taut thread to Pablo Picasso. Her own prolific career nearly slipped through the cracks. But look closer, and she’s there: exhibiting alongside Joan Miró and Paul Klee; directing Meret Oppenheim and Frida Kahlo in front of her lens; sharing a darkroom with Brassaï; weathering the German occupation of Paris with Simone de Beauvoir; and rallying against fascism with Surrealist manifesto author André Breton. How could such a well-connected artist who influenced a generation of Surrealists nearly fade entirely from view?
Maar’s first retrospective in the U.K., which runs at Tate Modern through March 15, 2020, and previously showed at Paris’s Centre Pompidou, recolors the artist’s life and career. On view are over 200 works from over 60 years of her life: her commercial photos, her famous Surrealist photomontages, and the painting practice she took refuge in when she withdrew from the art world. “Maar was revolutionary in her refusal to be constrained by one medium or technique,” said Emma Jones, who curated the Tate Modern show with Emma Lewis. “Her career was defined by reinvention and experimentation right up until the 1980s.”
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