Ever since an eye was, for the first time, suspended by its lashes, and it was shot with an air-rifle, countless acrobats have displayed their talents. But because target shooting has always been competitive, one can only measure a good shot by comparing him to his rivals.
Along came a man who substituted himself for the eye knowing how dangerous this would be. Have you ever seen a live camera? A camera on which Adrienne would lean heavily, confidently without the camera reacting?
Dear Pablo, the more you get used, the more you resist. One wishes the same could be said about all our beautiful inventions!
Yes, you have made photographs, like all painters, but with your own eyes, with your own hands and not with borrowed cameras. You even invented the subject.
The strength of your work is in the strength of your love and of your hatred; whether you use earth or light, this strength envelopes the subject or burns it.
Since, for the first time, an eye was hung from the sky and it has been examined by all the telescopes in the world, countless experts came to find which was the best one.
With no result!
The eye of Picasso sees better than it is seen.
- Man Ray, Cahiers d'Art, #6-7, 1937.
In 1937 the art revue Cahiers d'Art, published by impresario Christian Zervos, presented a suite of four images by Pablo Picasso that have remained a mysterious adjunct to an otherwise extremely well defined and studied oeuvre. The four images, all portraits of Picasso's lover, the photographer and painter Dora Maar, were created using a complex combination of clich-verre and photogram techniques which is belied by the seeming facility of execution. What the "originals" of these images were, however, was unknown to the rest of the world as Picasso never exhibited the works publicly or followed up with any works created using the same techniques. For six decades following their publication, the Cahiers d'Art suite of images were an enigmatic anomaly by the most famous and accomplished artist of the 20th century. It wasn't until after Dora Maar passed away in 1997 did the prospect of learning of the true nature of these become possible, for it was Maar, and not Picasso, that held onto them. For many years they were locked away in a bank vault in Paris, unvisited by anyone but Maar herself.
In October and November 1998, Dora Maar's estate was made available for sale at auction in Paris through the Commissaires-Priseurs, PIASA and Me J.J. Mathias. Finally brought to public attention were a pair of the original clich-verre plates and four prints made directly from clich-verre plates, including one previously unknown work (The Bather at Dinard, "Les Picasso de Dora Maar", 27 & 28 October, lots A<->1 and A<->2, pp. 92-3) and a variant of lot 244 offered here (ibid., lot D, p. 97). Also included was a print made from the clich-verre plate for lot 246 included here (ibid., lot C, p. 96). While these were greatly anticipated by collectors and curators alike, for Dora Maar's secret trove had been extremely well guarded, the works were never made available for sale. The government exercised the option of accessioning all works related to the Cahiers d'Art project, accepting them as payment, in lieu of estate taxes. (The Estate of Dora Maar, Les Photographies de Dora Maar, Une Histoire - des Oeuvres, 20 November 1998, "For the Record", pp. 192-3). The group of related items was delivered to the Muse Picasso where they are now housed. Illustrated in the postscript cited but never shown were the clich-verre plate for the variant version of Portrait of Dora Maar (Profile), lot D; and the print from the original plate of the work offered in this lot.
The following four lots are photographs that were executed by Dora Maar from the original prints, specifically for Cahiers d'Art. That is to say that they were produced from negatives made of the clich-verre prints and represent the exact versions reproduced in the May, 1937 issue. Oddly enough, Maar created these prints to the exact dimensions of the originals, despite the cropping that appears in the magazine. All four prints remained in the archives of Cahier d'Art until they were discovered in the early 1990s.
Due to the French state's seizure of the works from the Estate of Dora Maar and their subsequent depositing at the Muse Picasso, these four lots are the only prints from the Cahier d'Art project that will ever be available to collectors.
Christie's gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Michle Chomette, Expert in charge of the sale of photographs for Dora Maar's estate.