Text by Sacha Llewellyn 2022
Dora Maar worked as an assistant for Man Ray in the late 20s’ and 30s, and they stayed in close contact even after she opened her own photography studio (with Pierre Kéfer) at 29 Rue d’Astorg, Paris. In 1935, Maar met Pablo Picasso and the pair became lovers – a relationship that lasted until 1943. In this ethereal work, created soon after they met, Maar has embellished a page from Cahiers d’Art Picasso 1930-1935 (1936) with spots of ink to create a multicoloured constellation (embellishing Man Ray’s iconic photographic portrait). Possibly inspired by Picasso’s use of pointillism, as in works such as Le Retour de baptême d’après Le Nain (1917), Maar has used the technique as an artistic exploration of the limits between abstraction and figuration. Such combinations – juxtaposing pre-existing elements to transform them into new creations – was a central feature of Surrealism. Paul Eluard once said of Dora Maar that she ‘holds every image in her hands’. A remarkable artist in her own right, her work explored themes such as eroticism, sleep, the unconscious and the relationship between art and reality.