Picasso debout travaillant à «Guernica» dans son atelier des Grands-Augustins (Picasso in the Grands-Augustins Studio Working on "Guernica")

Dora Maar (Henriette Theodora Markovitch)

Tours, France, 1907 - Paris, France, 1997
  • Date: 
    1937 (May-June, Paris)
  • Technique: 
    Gelatin silver print on paper
  • Dimensions: 
    Full bleed image: 20,1 x 21,5 cm
  • Category: 
  • Entry date: 
  • Observations: 
    Exhibition copy on aluminio, 2017
  • Register number: 

Pablo Picasso began work on sketches for Guernica on May 1st 1937. From May 11th until June 4th of that year, Dora Maar visited his studio in the Rue des Grands-Augustins to make a photographic record of the entire creative process. A number of people around Picasso realised how important the work was, and Christian Zervos, who had founded Cahiers d’art in 1926, asked Dora Maar to document the painting’s progress. Picasso had mentioned some time before that “it would be interesting to use a camera to fix not the stages of a painting, but its metamorphosis”, almost alluding to the Surrealist associations of multiple image and biomorphic transformation. That metamorphosis was recorded by Dora Maar’s camera. However, the conditions were not ideal for Dora Maar due to the size of the canvas and the studio’s low lighting. To make the images stronger, Dora Maar used methods including photographic retouching, internegatives and copies taken from prints.
The Museo Reina Sofía holds a total of twenty-eight photographs showing different stages in the picture’s execution. In the early stages, working on basic outlines, one can already see the principal figures: the mother holding the dead child, the bull, the horse, the fallen soldier, the person holding a light and the figure with arms raised. They show how Picasso was progressively correcting the poses of the figures and eliminating certain elements in order to give the composition greater clarity. By the final stages, the fields were being filled in, the initial narrative sense was lost and the symbolic weight was distributed between the main characters.

Concha Calvo Salanova