French born Henrietta Theodora Markovitch, Maar grew up in Buenos Aires and returned to Paris to study painting and later photography. In 1930 she shared the studio with set designer and photographer Pierre Kéfer. She was encouraged by Henri Cartier Bresson to take on photojournalism, posed for Man Ray and became close friend with Brassai. By the mid 30s she became a prominent member of Surrealism, associating herself with Man Ray, André Breton, Jean Cocteau and Paul Éluard, who introduced her to Picasso. Her relationship with Picasso lasted more than a decade and led her over time to move away from photography and use painting as a medium. After their separation and her mental breakdown, she settled in Provence where she continued to paint mainly landscapes.