Madame d’Ora—born Dora Kallmus in Vienna in 1881—was the first woman admitted into the Association of Austrian Photographers. Documenting the leading lights of Viennese culture and fashion—her first portrait was of Gustav Klimt—the Francophile lenswoman opened a studio in Paris in 1925, shooting Maurice Chevalier, Josephine Baker, and Gabrielle Chanel, among others.
When the Nazis overran the French capital in 1940, d’Ora fled to Ardèche, in the southeast. After the war—most of her family were murdered in the camps—she returned to Paris and began a series of portraits of displaced persons and Parisian slaughterhouses.
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. — Jean Cocteau, 1958
MADAME D’ORA—the exhibition curently on view at the Neue Galerie in Manhattan—is the largest museum retrospective on the photographer to date in this country.
Through June 8.
1048 Fifth Avenue (at 86th Street), New York City.
Madame d’Ora, from top: Tamara de Lempicka, hat by Rose Descat, 1933; Josephine Baker, 1928, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg; Displaced persons camp in Austria, 1945; Tsuguharu Foujita; Colette, 1954, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg; Madame Agnès with a hat made of velvet with transparent brim, circa 1936, Photoinstitut Bonartes, Vienna; Helene Jamrich with a hat from Zwieback, designed by Rudolf Krieser, 1909, Photoinstitut Bonartes, Vienna; Alban Berg, 1909, Höhere Graphische Bundes-Lehr-und Versuchsanstalt, Vienna; Countess von Haugwitz-Széchényi, Countess Khevenhüller-Fürstenberg, and Countess Marie Choloniewska serving in the Red Cross during the First World War, 1914, Ullstein Bild collection; Elsie Altmann-Loos, 1922, photoarchive Setzer-Tschiedel / IMAGNO; Pablo Picasso, 1955, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg; Coco Chanel, 1923, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg; Elizabeth Strong-Cuevas in a costume by Pierre Balmain; Madame d’Ora self-portrait. Images courtesy and © the photographer’s estate and all agencies names above.