Dora Maar & Ubu

In the summer of 2018, I was approached to write an essay for the catalogue of an upcoming exhibition of the work of Dora Maar, jointly organized by the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, in collaboration with Tate Modern.

First then, my thanks for this invitation go to the exhibition curators, Damarice Amao and Karolina Ziebinska-Lewandowska of the Centre Pompidou and Amanda Maddox of the Getty.

I first wrote a text which centred around the three very different photographs which Maar showed in the International Surrealist Exhibition in London in 1936. However, it was felt that aspects of my essay overlapped too much with others in the catalogue and I was asked to rewrite it. This I did and the final version concentrated on the one picture that was not being discussed elsewhere: Dora Maar’s wonderful Portrait of Ubu (reproduced here).

The exhibition opened at the Centre Pompidou in June 2019 and was then shown at Tate Modern from November 2019 to March 2000. The show was due to travel on to the Getty Museum, but, just as the exhibition closed in London, lockdown descended and, as far as I know, it was never mounted in Los Angeles.

The catalogue containing my final essay was published in both English and French, and it / they can be found below. However, there are things in my first version which I’d like to remember, so I have included it here as I wrote it in September 2018 and sometime it would be interesting to revisit it.

Finally, I am now extending my investigations into the afterlife of Ubu with an essay on the animated versions of Ubu Roi by Jan Lenica and Geoff Dunbar. This, I hope, will be published in a forthcoming volume edited by Abigail Susik, Beyond Still Life: Surrealism and Animation.

Ubu in London

Ubu à Londres

First Draft