Artist : Woman of Letters


Writing, research, images that teach me.

I look at you looking at me i know you know how it feels


Part of my fascination with Dora Maar must be that there's something about her which has not yet been said. Muse, glassy shadow, calls to something only I know. And when will I speak it, can I listen hard enough, where does it sing from, where am I.

Dora at the beach in the wind, Picasso's tiny ass, Nunsch gazing at the camera, dangling a smoke from her lips, Paul Eluard in a silly hat. Do I wish I could be there? Would I have hated Picasso like I do now, or would he look at me with those Bluebeard eyes and send me reeling too? It's Dora I'd be gazing at. I'd be gazing at her gazing at him. I'd be watching the tips of her fingers for some runic sign, trying to see the pixie dust glimmering right behind her head, trying to soak it in, lick it up. I'd be hoping for a brush of her lips against my ear. I'd be feeling that wind.

Elena Ferrante's Neopolitan books loop around a woman named Lila. Lila seems to have wanted to erase herself. The novels open on a scene: Lenu, the narrator, is an old lady; Lila's adult son arrives to say that his mother has disappeared. The narrator seems unsurprised, and tells us why. Then, over the course of four novels, she recalls her life with and without Lila. At the close, we remember that Lila has disappeared, but a mysterious package arrives, containing a kind of talisman: proof that Lila has not really disappeared - proof that her intention to erase herself goes on linking her to the living. 

Did Dora Maar want to erase herself? 

A woman whose image was produced and reproduced obsessively by "the greatest artist ever" - how can she erase herself? Why would she want to? Did she want to? What does it mean? Did other people want to erase her or did she do it herself? Who was Dora Maar?

Mary Ann Caws, the art historian who has written most of the easily accessible art historical texts on Dora Maar, titles her two monographs on Maar, "Dora Maar: Picasso's Weeping Woman," and "Dora Maar: Life With and Without Picasso." There's something viscerally unsettling here - I feel it in that hollow space right between my hip and my guts.


Dora Maar.


Picasso's Weeping Woman.


A woman who was Picasso's? 

A woman who was ... Picassos?

Dora Maar: Picasso's Weeping Woman opens with a quote from Maar herself, (straight from her own mouth? did she have a mouth? or only a painted tangle?) centered on a page otherwise empty but for a small reproduction of a watery blue-ink drawing (by Picasso) of Maar leaning on one arm, her eyes like prickly stars. The quote says, "Not one of them is Dora Maar. They're all Picassos. Do you think I mind? Do you think ____ minded? Do you think _____ minds?"

Not one of them is Dora Maar. 

What question was she asked, to which she uttered this response?

:*+utterance*:*+returning objects*:*+Alice B. Toklas*