Why this Artist is a Model for Creative Accomplishment

A female pioneer of surrealist photography

Christopher P Jones
4 min readMay 2, 2023


Detail of ‘Untitled (Harvard)’ (1935) by Dora Maar. Photograph: © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2019. Taken from the Dora Maar exhibition at Tate Modern, London 2019

The story of Dora Maar — French photographer, painter and poet — is a lesson in perpetual creativity.

For a long time, Maar has been known as the muse for Picasso’s painting Weeping Woman. But as a female photographer working in a field dominated by men, she not only broke boundaries for “modern women”, she also made innovative and pioneering art.

Born in Paris 1907 to a French mother and a Croatian father, Maar’s earliest wish was to become a painter. It was a pursuit she would return to later in life, but when it came to a career, she chose to pursue photography instead.

This was an age when photography was coming into its own.

Fashion and beauty magazines required new photographers to fill their pages. Maar’s images began appearing in print, from clothing magazines to cosmetic advertisements.

By the time she was 25, having mastered the technical side of the medium, Maar had established a career in commercial photography. During the 1930s she opened her own studio in Paris with art director Pierre Kéfer. She also shared a darkroom with the influential Hungarian-French photographer Brassaï.