The two began their training in private centers or for women, combined the workshop with fieldwork and broke a taboo by participating in exhibitions when that was something exceptional for an artist. The two were sensitive to the social changes of their time and occupied a prominent place in the history of art.
But what they also share Dora Maar (1907-1997) and Berthe Morisot (1841-1895) is that they were less known than their male colleagues. The first, because for many it remains only the muse and lover of Picasso, the model of 'The woman who cries' or the photographer who immortalized the creative process of 'Guernica'. Morisot, because his canvases were not exposed as much as those of Manet, Monet, Degas, Renoir or Pissarro, painters of the group of the Impressionists of which Morisot was a fundamental piece.
Now the two occupy all their space in two exhibitions that give them prominence without projecting on them the shadow of other male artists. The Pompidou Center in Paris He has gathered for the first time the scattered work of Dora Maar proposing a new reading through more than 400 pieces, and the Museum of Orsay repairs the error of the French museums of not having dedicated a monographic exhibition to Morisot in almost 80 years.
Dora Maar's retrospective continues her artistic career since his first photographic commissions for magazines of fashion or publicity until his painting, a more unknown facet, initiated during his romance with Picasso (1936-1943) and to which he dedicated almost 40 years.
The photographer's job allows Dora Maar become professionally and socially independent, put your technical expertise at the service of a dream universe and transgress conventions by mixing reality and fiction, as in 'The Simulator' or 'Ubu Portrait'. A duality that fascinates the surrealists, with whom it shares exhibitions, intellectual complicity and political commitment to the rise of fascism.
Trip to Barcelona
In the context of a Europe mired in the Great depression after the 'crack' of 1929, where unemployed, poor and beggars abound, he combines the studio photo with almost documentary work and, from 1933, Dora Maar travels through the slums of Paris. London and Barcelona, where he travels alone to portray Gaudí's works, scenes from the Boqueria market or the Rambla youth. The images of children in the streets of the Catalan capital are among the most successful in this registry.
The exhibition also allows you to discover his painting, which transits from the intimate, hard and solitary style of still lifes, reflecting the period of the Nazi occupation, to the landscape oriented towards the abstraction of the 50s.
Although he does not expose his work, Dora Maar continues to create until the end of his life, merging surprising photography and painting in his work of the eighties. «Light drawings symbolizing the reconciliation of two modes of expression to which it was linked », highlight the curators.
In the case of Berthe Morisot, Orsay puts the focus on his relevant role within the artistic panorama of the late nineteenth century. Opposing the uses of the time, the young Parisian bourgeois class decides to be a professional painter making artistic activity the center of her life.
«I will only achieve my independence by force of perseverance and openly expressing my intention to emancipate myself», writes Morisot in 1871, three years before becoming the only woman who participates in the first exhibition of the Impressionists, a group that will contribute to create and in the It will occupy a central place. It will also be the only one, along with Pissarro, true to the idea of developing an independent career apart from the official artistic circuits.
Morisot reflects what Baudelaire called 'modern life'. She portrays members of her family, innovates in the representation of fatherhood by painting her husband – Eugen Manet, the painter's brother – taking care of her daughter and using professional models for the most intimate scenes.
His work expresses a new sensibility of the private sphere and seeks inspiration in the daily life of a woman in the process of change. In his paintings there are women working, servants or midwives represented with dignity, and the message that being a mother is not the only destiny of women.
The Orsay show puts special emphasis on the portrait, An essential facet of its creation.
To the modern subjects its technical expertise is added. "Because of her mastery of outdoor work and her practice of a clear, fast and precise brushstroke painting, she reveals herself as a radical explorer of that aesthetic of the moment that the impressionists liked," said Commissioner Sylvie Patry.
Paradoxically, and in clear contradiction with his technique, his paintings were seen as "delicate, pleasant, exquisite or charming", following the stereotypes linked to the feminine.
Towards the symbolism
Back in 1890 his painting has symbolic accents, suggests more than describes and creates unreal effects, inviting a melancholic meditation on the relationships between art and life. «The dream is life and the dream is more true than reality», says the painter.
Almost half of the paintings on display belong to private collections and some have not been seen in France for a century. The tour, chronological and thematic, is a reflection of the status of women of the nineteenth century and the inimitable technique of Morisot.
The Orsay also plays a role in the role of women in the permanent collection of the museum, offering a specific tour entitled 'Women, art and power'. «The history of the artists has long been a silent history, because the conditions of production and diffusion of his works have weighed on the visibility and recognition of his colleagues ”, explains its president, Laurence des Cars. The initiative underlines the role of women in a period (1848-1914) marked by industrialization that lays the foundations of today's society.
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