Madame d'Ora, photographer of the stars of the 20th century’s art and fashion

Leopold Museum in Vienna presents "Make me beautiful"; a summer exhibition dedicated to the work of Madame d'Ora, a photographer that captured the great names of the 20th century’s world of art and fashion, aristocracy and politics.
 
 
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Self-portrait of the photographer d’Ora. Gelatin silver print 12,8 × 17,8 cm. Photo: Madame d’Ora – ullstein bild collection
 
 
Dora Kallmus, known professionally as Madame D'Ora (born March 20, 1881) was an Austrian portrait and fashion photographer who established her own studio in 1907. Within only a few months, d’Ora and her colleague Arthur Benda had established themselves as the most elegant and renowned studio for artistic portrait photographs while the studio’s images were widely published in numerous newspapers and magazines in Austria and abroad. The first artist photographed by her was Gustav Klimt in 1908.
 
 
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Left: Gustav Klimt, 1907. Gelatin silver print 19,7 × 16,2 cm. ARGE Collection Gustav Klimt / Permanent loan, Leopold Museum, Vienna. Photo: Leopold Museum, Wien/Manfred Thumberger, Vienna. Right: Alban Berg, 1909. Carbon print on supporting cardboard 48,3 × 35,7 cm. Albertina, Vienna. Permanent loan from the Höhere Graphische Bundes-Lehr-und Versuchsanstalt, Vienna. Photo: Albertina, Vienna. Permanent loan from the Höhere Graphische Bundes-Lehr-und Versuchsanstalt, Vienna
 
 
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Countess von Haugwitz-Széchényi, Countess Khevenhüller-Fürstenberg and Countess Marie Choloniewska serving in the Red Cross during the First World War. Gelatin silver print 13,9 × 20,7 cm. Photo: Madame d’Ora – ullstein bild collection
 
 
D’Ora was one of the first photographers to focus on the emerging areas of modern dance and fashion, particularly after 1920, when fashion photographs started to replace drawings in magazines. While her photographic technique was not radical, her avant-garde subject matter was a risky choice for a commercial studio. However, d’Ora’s photographs, which captured her clients’ individuality with new, natural positions in contrast to stiff, old-fashioned poses, quickly became popular.
In 1925 an offer from the fashion magazine L’Officiel brought d’Ora to Paris, which became the center of her personal and professional life. She received countless commissions from fashion and lifestyle magazines. Her subjects included Josephine Baker, Coco Chanel, Tamara de Lempicka, Marc Chagall, Maurice Chevalier, Colette, and other dancers, actors, painters, writers and members of the Rothschild family.
 
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Left: Coco Chanel, 1923. Gelatin silver print 21,8 × 16 cm. Photo: Nachlass Madame d’Ora/Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
Right: Maurice Chevalier, c. 1927. Gelatin silver print 22,5 × 14,5 cm. Photo: Photoinstitut Bonartes, Vienna
 
 
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Left: Josephine Baker, 1928. Gelatin silver print 19,4 × 16 cm. Photo: Nachlass Madame d’Ora, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
Right: Oskar Kokoschka in Paris, c. 1930. Gelatin silver print 26,1 × 16,3 cm. University of Applied Arts Vienna, Collection and Archive, Oskar Kokoschka-Zentrum
 
 
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Left: Tamara de Lempicka with a hat of Rose Descat, 1933. Gelatin silver print 21,5 × 15,5 cm. Private collection, Vienna. Photo: Photoinstitut Bonartes, Vienna
Right: Madame Agnès with a hat made of velvet with transparent brim, c. 1936. Gelatin silver print 22,7 × 16,8 cm. Photo: Photoinstitut Bonartes, Vienna
 
 
Both the subject and style of d’Ora’s photographs changed radically after the war. Already in 1945 she documented the plight of refugees at a camp in Austria and in 1956, at the age of seventy-five, completed a series vividly depicting the brutality of Paris slaughterhouses. After she was hit by a motorcycle in 1959, d’Ora lost much of her memory and was unable to work. She spent her remaining years in Frohnleiten, Austria, in the family house that had been forcibly sold under the Nazis but later returned to her. She died on October 28, 1963. Her very last portrait was that of Pablo Picasso in 1955.
 
 
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In a refugee camp (Salzburg?). Gelatin silver print. Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg. Photo: Nachlass Madame d’Ora/Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
 
 
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Left: Colette, 1954. Gelatin silver print 11 × 12,7 cm. Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg. Photo: Nachlass Madame d’Ora/Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
Right: Pablo Picasso, 1955. Gelatin silver print 25,5 × 23,6 cm. Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg. Photo: Nachlass Madame d’Ora/Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

 
 
Exhibition start date: July 13, 2018
Exhibition end date: October 29, 2018
Address: Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Wien (see map below)
More information here

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