reading Picasso – cubist into entopic graphomania

Dora Maar – Portrait of Pablo Picasso (1936) -Oil on canvas – 65×54.5 cm

I happened upon a cubist portrait, that gave me an idea for another composition sequence. When I went to check the source, and identify the image, I discovered, as happens on the internet, there had been an error/vague attribution made.

The cubist portrait was not done by Picasso, but was of Picasso. The actual artist was Dora Maar.

Henriette Theodora Markovitch (22 November 1907 – 16 July 1997), known as Dora Maar, was a French photographer, painter, and poet. A partner of Pablo Picasso, Maar was depicted in a number of Picasso’s paintings, including his Portrait of Dora Maar and Dora Maar au Chat.

Tiyana Williams’s Reflection Essay – Dora Maar  presents an excellent account of Maar’s artwork and how it has been underappreciated, like many women artists.


Maar’s Portrait of Picasso is done in his style, but she brings qualities to the work that reflect her own sensibilities. I was taken by the portrait, and had one of my silly notions. I attempted to sketch out the portrait as an entopic graphomania text.

An old handout about determining reading comprehension levels was used as the base of this exercise. As a consequence, as I coloured in, and then digitally modified the composition it became a metatextual asemic piece – a piece of writing about literacy that evolves/devolves into deconstructed text.

It also becomes a reflection on how we interpret/read artists, like Picasso and Maar. Maar’s career as a photographer and painter, along with her identity and self-image, were overwritten by Picasso. She had to struggle to regain that, and even today many can recognize Picasso’s name, and either know Maar only in the context of his work and life, or not recognize her at all. Hence the misidentification of her portrait of him.