In the summer of 2018, I was approached to write an essay for the catalogue of an 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.
I proposed and wrote up a text which centred around the three very different photographs which Maar showed in the International Surrealist Exhibition in London 1936. However, it was felt that aspects of my essay was too close to others in the catalogue and I was asked to rewrite it. This I did, concentrating on the one of the three pictures that was not being discussed elsewhere: her wonderful Portrait of Ubu (reproduced here).
The exhibition was shown in its full form at the Centre Pompidou in June 2019 and a reduced version is at Tate Modern till March 15, 2000. It will then be finally shown at the Getty in April-July 2020. The catalogue, containing my essay ‘Ubu in London’ has been published in both English and French, though I understand the latter is nearly sold out.
I am, however, loath to completely leave my first version behind, since I feel that there are things there worth preserving and passing on. So I have placed it on record here just as I wrote it in September 2018, and I want at a later date to incorporate these thoughts in a larger study of the place of Dora Maar’s work in the surrealist photography of the 1930s.