Dora MAAR, Portrait d'Ubu (Portrait of Ubu) Enlarge 1 /1


France 1907 – 1997

Portrait d'Ubu (Portrait of Ubu) [Portrait of Pere Ubu] 1936 Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph
Primary Insc: not signed, dated in purple stamp, "18 Sep 1936" inscribed verso, pencil "Portrait d'Ubu Objet trouve"

Dimensions: image 18.1 h x 11.4 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1987
Accession No: NGA 87.983
Subject: Art style: Surrealism

More detail

What kind of creature is in this photograph? Is it a big monster or something smaller? This photograph by artist, Dora Maar, is of a baby armadillo before it is born. Notice the texture of its skin and its long fingers. Do you know what an adult armadillo looks like?

Activity; Think about photographing something in your house in close up so that it is hard to recognise the object.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Maar was a commercial photographer who maintained an active presence in Paris’s avant-garde circles; a member of Andre Breton’s Surrealist group, she was also associated with the philosopher Georges Bataille’s group of renegade surrealists. Maar’s surrealist work included strange images of Paris’s street life and portraiture, including this marvelous image of the grotesque protagonist in Alfred Jarry's absurdist play Ubu Roi (1896). Actually an image of a baby armadillo, Maar’s portrait of Ubu operates at a highly imaginative level. Classically surrealist, Maar’s most-famous photograph is at once captivating and repellent.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra