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Art and Images in Psychiatry
Jan 2012

Picasso's Weeping Woman

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2012;69(1):5-6. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.163

I couldn't make a portrait of her laughing. For me she's the weeping woman. For years I’ve painted [Dora Maar] in tortured forms, not through sadism, and not with pleasure, either, just obeying a vision that forced itself on me. It was the deep reality, not the superficial one.—Pablo Picasso1(p122)

Dora Maar (1907-1997), Pablo Picasso's weeping woman (epigraph), collaborated with him in the creation of his masterpiece, Guernica,2 his vivid condemnation of war commissioned for the Spanish Pavilion in the 1937 Universal Exposition in Paris to protest bombing of civilians in Spain. Dora (born Henriette Theodora Marković), a well-known photographer35 and member of the Surrealist nihilist group, photographed Guernica throughout its genesis until it was complete (Figure 1). Her profile is found in the woman in the center who holds the lamp that draws attention to the horror that is unfolding. She contributed to the painting of the dying horse that is emblematic of the suffering of the victims. Having lived in Argentina as a child, Dora spoke fluent Spanish, allowing her, unlike Picasso's wife and other mistresses, to easily converse with him in his native tongue. A committed leftist who was vehemently opposed to General Francisco Franco's Nationalist insurrection in Spain, she emotionally engaged Picasso and contributed to his angst about the aerial murder of civilians by the German Condor Legion at Guernica, the legendary capital of the Basque people in Spain. Picasso was intrigued by her intellectual and emotional expressiveness and seemingly could not stop painting her.3

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