Dora Maar, “Portrait of Assia sleeping on fur rug”, 1934

We see a face which is indifferent not only to the world because the person is sleeping, but to the very sleeping – Assia is not only with sleeping face but with sleeping soul (it’s possible to see the faces of the people sleeping, which keep the traces of awareness of sleeping). But a person with such a facial none expression, with a facial indifference even to her own sleeping, can give herself even to the sun just to get some tan, not more than that. Assia is more than relaxed, she is turned off, she is turned off to the degree that nothing in her knows or even less – guesses that she is turned off. This condition, probably, can come about when a human being doesn’t really know who she is or doesn’t care what she really can be. But is it possible that this kind of individual can exist? May be, such a person didn’t ontologically awaken yet? She exists but not really lives.


Dora Maar, “Assia”, 1934

Look at the Assia’s body – perfect like a sculpture, but without sculpture-like idealization. Assia is athletic, but her body is without any appeal, any “romantic” air or sensual aura. May be, Assia doesn’t like her body – her face is not with her flesh. She looks, and very decisively, to the side, somewhere else. She looks away from herself, as if, she is turning away from her being.

Dora Maar shows us what Assia’s attention is completely outside her body – she looks rather at her shadow. It looks that in the shadow of her own body Assia finds herself. May be, she feels that her very being is in her shadow, not in her face and not in her body? If so, how can it be?

Assia’s shadow is different from her body by the fact that it… is moving. Her body is frontally positioned and static, but her shadow has her own… will, it’s not a passive reflection of her psychological (face) or her physiological (body) existence. It’s, as if, Assia’s soul is frozen in passivity, but her shadow is prone to impulsive moods. Look at Assia’s gaze at her shadow which is going out of control. On the one side, she is a kind of fixated on it, on her other she is suspicious about it, even afraid of it. It looks that Assia is afraid of… herself, of her real personality incarnated into her shadow.

Assia’s body is athletic, but her shadow is a giant, like the shadow of a human goddess in a modern Western sense when omnipresence of sport blended with omnipotence of money investment are much more important existential factors than human being’s psychological nuance and moral sensitivity. But Assia’s shadow according to Dora Maar is much less typical – it is her new being as a woman-giant not as emancipated like women competing with men for jobs and positions and happy to become policewomen, female soldiers, CEOs, or technical scientists working for NASA, but as a new superhuman anthropological breed which will create a new human world populated with new generations not corrupted by the conformist values.

You can bet, Assia’s shadow doesn’t look too attractive according to male taste (men generally prefer women smaller and physically weaker than them), but Assia’s unconscious (Dora Maar’s intuition) tried to create a woman form congruent with the power of goddess able to achieve what ruling males are unable – not only to sustain human life and care about it, but to sustain and care about life of humanity.

*Assia Granatouroff for several years was working with professional photographers including Dora Maar. During WWII she as a Jew was arrested by Gestapo, but was able to escape and joined the Resistance.