This work will be included in the forthcoming Antonio Saura Catalogue Raisonné, being prepared by the Archives Antonio Saura and Olivier Weber-Caflisch.
Executed at the end of one extraordinary month in 1983, Dora Maar 25.5. 83 is the ultimate work from a powerful series of paintings that Antonio Saura based on Dora Maar, Picasso's muse and lover.
A bold commentary on the tradition of portraiture, this important body of work constitutes a tour-de-force for the Spanish artist. Stimulated and inspired by Picasso's 1939 picture Femme au chapeau bleu, Saura set himself the challenge of appropriating a subject that had not only already been reformulated - mentally dismantled and reassembled on the canvas - but was also culturally significant. The face of Dora Maar, Saura revealed, was 'engraved permanently on my memory and I can draw it with my eyes closed. I know the exact shape of the hat, of the nose, elongated like the trunk of an elephant, of its blinded eye, its exaggerated neck, and of its sort of small throat above the big black body' (A. Saura quoted in Antonio Saura, exh. cat., Museo d'arte moderna, Lugano 1994, p. 96).
Having spent a decade concentrating on works on paper and writing, Saura returned to painting with a renewed enthusiasm in response to an inner desire to explore humanity's fascination with the figurative archetype. In his obsessive pursuit of the 'inaccessible ideal of a convulsive beauty' (A. Saura quoted in Antonio Saura, exh. cat., Museo d'arte moderna, Lugano, 1994, p. 96). Saura rendered the abstracted female face in soft ochres and gentle salmon pinks, setting it against a neutral grey background to create a statuesque image that is disturbingly resonant. Far from being pale imitations of the seminal Cubist work, Saura has brought his own authority to the subject with each expressive and decisive brushstroke. Executed with great strength and conviction, Saura has managed to harness the essential structural features and emotional charge of one of the masterpieces of the 20th century.