“There’s an eerie moment, as you emerge from the rue Saint-Merri, with its bars and pavement cafés and look down into the square before the Centre Pompidou,” writes Jenny Uglow. “Below, a man is blowing bubbles, swept into the air high above him, where a huge dark goddess rises on a banner against the exoskeleton of the Pompidou, with its steel grids and tubular escalators. Facing away, the robed figure raises her arms, as if to open the heavy curtain behind her, but her head is totally obscured by a shining star. Beside her, the name shouts DORA MAAR.
This haunting show, in the cool gallery spaces high above the city that Maar knew so well, makes it clear that she was indeed a star, a leading figure in Surrealist photo-montage of the mid-1930s. Maar’s largest exhibition in France, it contains over 400 of her works, yet, like the model in the banner, she turns away, and hides her face, remaining enigmatic in her work. In Self-Portrait with Fan (1930), she shows only her reflection in a mirror, her serious gaze shrouded by the circles of an electric fan. She looks as if she might blow away, dissolve into fragments.
Her Surrealist montages deepen this impression. The images are powerful, haunting, stylish: a hand with a painted thumbnail curls out of a shell, like a hermit crab crawling on a blank field of sand against a lowering sky. In Les Yeux (circa 1935) eyeballs seem to float on a sea of tears. In Jambes (circa 1936), a long twist of hair spirals down from the apex of a triangle formed by two disembodied legs.”
For more information, visit centrepompidou.fr.