“Madame D’Ora is the largest museum retrospective on the Austrian photographer ever presented in the United States. Dora Kallmus (1881–1963), who came to be known as Madame d’Ora, was an unusual woman for her time with a spectacular career as one of the leading photographic portraitists of the early 20th century. The exhibition consists of sections devoted to the different periods of her life, from her early upbringing as the daughter of Jewish intellectuals in Vienna, to her days as a premier society photographer, through her survival during the Holocaust. The show includes more than 100 examples of her work, which is distinguished for its extreme elegance, and utter depth and darkness.
Forging a path in a field that was dominated by men, d’Ora enjoyed an illustrious 50-year career, from 1907 until 1957. Known today primarily for her work as a portrait photographer of the artistic and social elite of Europe, she also worked in other genres, in particular fashion. D’Ora was admired for her ability to capture the best features of her sitters, one of whom beseeched her to ‘Make me beautiful!’ Her late work, by contrast, is a testament to her suffering and personal loss in the aftermath of the Holocaust.” — Neue Galerie New York
In 1958, Jean Cocteau commented on d’Ora’s versatility remarking: “Madame d’Ora, fanned by the wing of genius, strolls in a labyrinth whose minotaur goes from the Dolly Sisters to the terrible bestiary of the slaughterhouses—where this ageless woman, more lucid than any young man, brushes the killers aside with a gesture and sets up her camera in their stead in front of the daily sacrifice of our carnivorous cult.”
Madame D’Ora is organized by Neue Galerie New York. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Monika Faber, director of the Photoinstitut Bonartes in Vienna.
The exhibition was originally developed by Monika Faber and Magdalena Vukovic, Photoinstitut Bonartes, Vienna, together with Esther Ruelfs, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, for a presentation in Hamburg and at the Leopold Museum, Vienna.
Images courtesy Neue Galerie New York.