In a self-portrait of 1929, the photographer Madam d’Ora looks into the lens from behind a reclining black cat, her face half hidden. All we see are her wary eyes, eyebrows so thin they seem pencilled on, and a cap of wavy dark hair. Dora Kallmus, born in 1881, became famous as Austria’s first professional female photographer. With studios in Vienna and Paris, celebrities of the day flocked to her camera, which always seemed to catch the essential. Gustav Klimt, Coco Chanel, Colette, Josephine Baker, Pablo Picasso, the list sails on. Neue Galerie presents the largest-ever U.S. exhibition of d’Ora’s work, tracking her life as the daughter of Jewish intellectuals, her rise to stardom in Paris, and her survival of the Holocaust. —L.J.
Madame d'Ora was featured in the February 15, 2020 issue of Air Mail. Read on