Dora Maar - Tate Modern Exhibition

Dora Maar was a surrealist photographer and artist in the 1930s, most famous for being Picasso’s model for his artwork “Weeping Woman” however she was so much more than that. 

Tate Modern

This exhibition took place in one of Tate’s paid exhibit floors. The Tate felt as though it was the perfect setting for Maar’s art due to the brutalist architecture of concrete and harsh angles. The building itself feels as though it is a piece of art. The muted colours and the industrial feel matched Maar’s depictions of hardship in Paris very fittingly.


The layout of the rooms was very simple and straightforward following one single route. This was particularly useful because some galleries have many winding corridors and rooms which makes you worry that you might be missing something. As you walked along you were following Dora Maar’s career from her start in fashion photography all the way through her leaving photography entirely before coming back to it right at the end. Each room focused on one stage of her career. This layout was very effective because it made it clear how much she changed as an artist as she experienced the world and was influenced by other artists around her.


When you first step in, the room is darkened and relatively empty. On one side is an introduction to the artist, entitled The Invention of Dora Maar. This room was giving you a glimpse of the artist before you saw her work. The other wall was filled with a cloud of her self portraits all framed and of varying sizes. It felt like this was a summary of her personality and style which was a really beautiful insight. The atmosphere was filled with anticipation as the crowd yearned to see more. I think at the beginning everyone was filled with wonder and a buzz to feel inspired. The next rooms were lighter and simple with a few videos and interviews in the background. There was the sound of hushed conversations as the crowd discussed the various meanings behind the artwork.


The collection on show here was no where near all of the art she created throughout her long career. It was specifically chosen to highlight the major turning points in her life and the art world, providing a variety of what was within each room. Because Dora Maar had dabbled in many different styles I think it was important that they included these varying sets of photographs. Each time you entered a new room you did not have any idea about the kind of art that you will see next.

Collections of Photographs

As I mentioned before there was a vast variety of her art on show even within each stage of her career. This was not just a photography exhibition but more of a walk through her life. Part of the collection at the beginning was showing her work in the real world through magazines and posters with her style, even then, showing through. In the middle of her career she was making art for herself rather than to promote other people’s products. This change was shown clearly through the way that they had grouped the images. The magazines were in glass cabinets with articles accompanying them whereas her famous artworks using double exposure and collaging were printed in different sizes and sometimes showed the post production process that they had undertaken. Quite often (especially her street photography) were laid out in such a way that you followed their journey as you walked past them.


This exhibition has inspired me to not just take photos but to create art from the otherwise simple surroundings that you see almost everyday.


Freya Billington

Freya Billington

I am Freya. I love pretty much everything artsy. From classical Greek sculptures to the surrealism movement I love nothing more than wandering about art galleries and museums.

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