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Raoul UBAC

(1910 - 1985)


A photographer, painter, printmaker and sculptor who came to prominence after World War II, at first under the pseudonym Raoul Michelet. In 1929, when his German family settled down n Belgium, he found and read the Surrealism Manifesto. In 1930, when he arrived in Paris, he got in touch with the members of the group and with the painter Camille Bryen, with whom he published a collection of poems in 1934, accompanied by photographs. He went on with his training in art at the applied arts school in Cologne where for a year he studied drawing and photography. On his return to Paris, he got to know Hans Bellmer, Victor Brauner and Raoul Hasmann. His first photographs were published in 1937 in the journal Minotaure. During World War II Ubac went into exile in Carcassonne, where he got to know Magritte. After the war he lived partially in Paris and partially in Brussels; he became acquainted with the poet Andre Frénau, the two working intensively together at their art. In 1947, Ubac returned to painting, in emulsion, making use of eggs and avoiding working in oil. Aimé Maeght first presented him four years later. Raoul Ubac explored the process in which spirit and vision constantly clashed with reality, explaining in 1942: “Simultaneously with the conquest of the world with desire, the conquest of space continues. Man permeates the space of zones that are more or less expanded according to the degree of the penetration of his consciousness. It is possible, and I think it a hypothesis that is in itself unpredictable, that there is a possibility recreating space just as it is possibly by our desire to create an image of the world that replaces it”. In the painting of the 1950s he shows anthropomorphic architecture, like a skeleton of figuration that he articulates with the background of the work through effects of transparency and superimposition. The ultimate state of the painted object on the canvas that he exhibits is the transformation of motif, before he switches to the simplest formal depiction. But Raoul Ubac is also interested in minerals. In the 1960s he directed his attentions and efforts to slate which he also integrated into the painting, to which it gave one more form, incising a series of signs with a nail, so that they make up animated reliefs, waves that he initially did in sand, ephemerally.

Raoul Ubac
Raoul Ubac, années 60

La fondation Maeght conserve dans ses collections des peintures et des dessins mais surtout l'artiste a réalisé pour la chapelle de la Fondation un vitrail et 14 stations.