Gwyneth Paltrow has accepted the role of Picasso’s muse in a new biopic about the turbulent and unstable relationship between Dora Maar and the greatest artist of the 20th century. This was a turning point in the master of Cubism’s career. The story takes place against a backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, with the escalation of WWII looming in Paris. Most importantly the time scale covers his seminal work on the masterpiece Guernica, a mural size painting on canvas, which uses Marr as one of the central figurative models.
One question comes to mind is how Paltrow will depict the forthcoming role? Firstly Maar was born Henriette Theodora Marković in Paris. Her father, Josip Marković, was a Croatian architect, famous for his work in South America; her mother, Julie Voisin, was from a Catholic family from Touraine, France. Dora grew up in Argentina,she was already a established photographer when she met Picasso. Maar also painted. They met in January 1936, on the terrace of the Café les Deux Magots in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, when she was 29 years old and he 54. Paltrow is already 40 but I suppose the camera will use a few soft focus tricks to make the early part of their relationship look realistic. The real Maar spoke Spanish fluently, so Picasso was even more infatuated with her. Perhaps Paltrow’s suburban Californian upbringing will prompt her to remember the Spanish, she no doubt was taught in school. Picasso’s role is played by Antonio Banderas, someone who doesn’t remotely resemble the artist, well I guess at least he is Spanish. The real life relationship lasted nearly nine years. Maar was a gritty strong woman, the unfortunate choice of Paltrow who bears no physical resemblance to Maar is surprising.
Maar became the rival of Picasso’s blonde mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter, who had a newborn daughter with Picasso, named Maya. Picasso often painted Dora crying. She suffered from depression and was unable to bare childern. Picasso called her his “private muse.” For him she was the “woman in tears” in many aspects. During their love affair, she suffered from his mood swings, and fell into deep states of depression. In 1943, when Picasso began his affair with Françoise Gilot. Dora had a nervous breakdown. Picasso and Paul Éluard sent Dora to their friend, the psychiatrist Jacques Lacan, who treated her with psychoanalysis. Dora Maar made herself known in the art world with her photographs of the successive stages of the completion of Guernica, which she documented as Picasso painted the masterpiece, in his workshop on the rue des Grands Augustins. Other photographic portraits of Picasso were also her legacy. Together, she and Picasso studied printing with Man Ray and Man Ray frequently used Dora as a photographic model. Picasso left her a drawing from 1915 as a goodbye gift in April 1944. Paris was still occupied by the Germans. The sketch was a portrait of Max Jacob, his close friend who had just died in the transit camp of Drancy, after his arrest by the Nazis. He also left Dora several still lifes and a house at Ménerbes in Provence. Maar was a gifted artist and part of a circle of creatives which remain an important force in the History of Modernism. A number of Picasso’s works were in her collection until her death in 1997. They were souvenirs of her extraordinary love affair, which immortalised her forever.