This story seems somehow continued in Picasso’s 1939 work Femme au fauteuil: Dora Maar (B318). By this time, Dora’s image had become recognizable, the subject of many well-known portraits in print and in paint. As we will discuss further in coming weeks, she was already known as Picasso’s Weeping Woman, so-called for the series of portraits in which her face itself seems disfigured, ripped open by her despair; her emotion is turned inside out. Fittingly, in B318 Dora appears contrary to her depictions a few years before. Whereas before she was spirited, now she is chair-bound, her hair let down from its elegant coif and her dress more matronly than fashionable. One hand is curled around the arm of the chair while the other hangs absently, mirroring the emotion that plays out on her face – one of pointed despair; a sense of absence that feels intentional, performative, as much as it does deeply private. And her eyes – Dora’s most striking, most awe-inspiring feature – are downcast, no longer staring off the page with a rapturous intensity, but further into it. Even the mode of her rendering has changed; Picasso uses aquatint instead of drypoint, in effect reinforcing the much-softened aura of his subject. It is evident that Picasso’s feelings have changed – they’ve deepened, developed; he sees the same features but never the same subject. The seasons change again.
Seasons of Change
February 3, 2021