History of Modern France

The Third French Republic 1870-1940. Part 8

8 December 2021

Zoom lecture

Women Photographers in Paris. 1920-1940 - Part 2

with Sylvie Koneski

Dora Maar (1907-97)

The years Lie in Wait for You, c. 1935

Following the exhibition that took place at the Met on “The New Woman behind the Camera”, this lecture will focus on how women photographers took up key vanguard position in Paris between the world wars.


In the 1920s Paris emerged as a new center of avant-garde art and as the hub for the new photography in Europe. The city stood as a model of modernity and a place of economic revival in the aftermath of the First World War, but also as a haven of political and religious freedom for those forced into exile. Many of the leading women photographers of the time, the “New Women”, moved to Paris to learn, experiment and participate in the city’s intellectual dialogue and creative movements.


The interwar period offered a stimulating melting pot and a multitude of photographic schools: from Surrealism to photojournalism. Expats Gisele Freund and Gerda Taro brought a genuine sophistication and a restless inventiveness to their pictures, as did their French contemporaries Claude Cahun and Dora Maar.

Gisele Freund, Self Portrait with Rolleiflex 1952

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