Assia features in several of Germaine Krull’s work of the 1930’s. She was also the muse of several other photographer’s including Dora Maar, Emmanuel Sougez and Roger Schall. She also posed for Andre Derain and several sculptors including Charles Despiau whom she would sit for twice a week from 1934 to 1938.
Assia Granatouroff was born in the Ukraine in 1911 of Jewish heritage. Her family fled revolutionary Russia and settled in France in 1922. After studying textile design she began working as a model in 1930. This proved so successful that it financed a theatrical and film career. With the invasion of France she fled to Marseilles but was arrested by the Gestapo. However she managed to escape and joined the Resistance. After the war she took to producing esoteric artworks inspired by the Tarot.
The photographs of Assia have an almost sculptural quality, emphasising Assia’s full, powerful figure and the statuesque nature of her Amazonian beauty.
Arguably the muse of the Surrealists, Nusch Eluard (Marie Benz) was the subject of works by Man Ray, Lee Miller, Dora Maar (see above and below) and Pablo Picasso. The poet Paul Eluard spotted her doing cartwheels down the street (she was an acrobat at the Grand Guignol theatre at the time) and was enchanted. They later married in 1934 and is the subject of his collection Facile illustrated with nude photographs of Nusch by Man Ray.
Nusch is the subject of several excellent photographs by Dora Maar, Picasso’s infamous weeping woman. It is rumoured that Nusch was also romantically involved with Picasso and that the relationship was sanctioned by Paul Eluard ; Eluard was no stranger to open relationships having previously been involved in a menage-a-trois with his first wife Gala Eluard (later Gala Dali) and Max Ernst (see A Week of Max Ernst: Wednesday).
During WWII Nusch worked for the French Resistance during the occupation. She died of a stroke at the age of 40; a tragically early death that left the Surrealists and other artists who knew her bereft.