French photographer, painter and poet Dora Maar (b. Henriette Theodora Markovitch, 1907-97), was a remarkable artist who straddled both the artistic and commercial realms. Until recently Maar’s work has often been overlooked in favour of her role as model to many greats of the early twentieth century, including Man Ray and Picasso, to whom she acted as model and archivist to for over 10 years. Yet Maar had been making a name for herself on the avant-garde scene long before she met these men.
Born to a French mother and a Croatian father in Paris in 1907, Maar grew up in Argentina. Aged 19 she returned to Paris and enrolled at the Académie Julian which would catapult her towards stardom. Here she began to study art seriously, at André Lhote’s atelier, alongside Henri Cartier-Bresson, as well as at the École de Photographie de la Ville de Paris and the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs.