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Yugoslavian father and a French mother. Raised in Argentina.
Studied painting in Paris at the Ecole d'Art Decoratif, Academic de Passy, Academic Julien, and with Andre Lhote.
Gave up painting for photography during the mid 1930s; associated with the Surrealists between 1934 and 1937.
Picasso met her in January 1936 at the terrace of the café "Les Deux Magots" in Saint-Germain- des Prés. Attracted by her black eyes and jet-black hair, he invested his friend, the famous poet Paul Eluard, to introduce him to this beautiful woman.
Their relationship was cemented a few weeks later when Picasso invited her in his flat of the rue de la Boetie in March 1936 and its duration (nearly nine years) coincided with the dark period spanning the years of the war of Spain and the Second World war.
She thus became the rival of the blonde Marie-Thérèse Walter who had given a daughter named Maya to Picasso. Contrary to the other women whom he had known, Maar was an artist who had a certain independence of mind but she eventually came to suffer from this relationship after she discovered she was sterile. Picasso, who was then aged 50, was charmed by this beautiful dark-haired girl and produced during their relationship of many sketches, watercolours and paintings which testify today of their moments of happiness.
She had however to yield to Picasso's whims as he had not given up Marie-Thérèse Walter. He went thus from one to another according to events and his mood. In Paris, still occupied by the Germans, he left her as a good-bye gift in April 1944 a drawing of 1915 representing Max Jacob his close friend who had just died in the transit camp of Drancy fater his arrest by the Nazis.
First photography exhibition at the Galerie de Beaune, Paris, in 1937.
One-woman exhibitions of painting in Paris at Jeanne Bucher (1943) and Pierre Loeb (1945).
After a period of semimonastic life devoted to mystical experience, began exhibiting her paintings again during the 1950s.
Towards the end of her life, renounced her earlier association with Surrealism and lived in Menerbes (Vaucluse).