Dora Maar

French (Paris, France, 1907 - 1997, Paris, France)

Le Simulateur (The Simulator or The Pretender)

photograph | gelatin silver print
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  • Le Simulateur (The Simulator or The Pretender)

    Dora Maar, Le Simulateur (The Simulator or The Pretender), 1936; gelatin silver print, 11 1/2 in. x 9 in. (29.21 cm x 22.86 cm); Collection of the Sack Photographic Trust; © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

This fantastical composition is one of Maar's most complex works and touches on some of the major themes of her oeuvre. She created the image by combining a photograph of a vaulted corridor, deliberately turned upside down, with a photograph of a boy. Maar then rephotographed the collage.

The surreal, dungeonlike netherworld that results suggests both unbidden desire and torment. The unnatural arch of the boy's back, which simulates the curve of the floor below him, seems to defy the normal laws of gravity as well as the constraints of decent behavior.

Maar also scratched out the boy's eyes, leaving him blind. His loss of sight could be a punishment for the horrors he has witnessed, but it might also signify liberation from repressive external forces and a return to primal reverie.

11 1/2 in. x 9 in. (29.21 cm x 22.86 cm)
Collection of the Sack Photographic Trust
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris


surreal, vaults, boys, bending, corridors, arches, curves, upside down

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