After his studies at the Athénée Royal in Maimédy Ubac took a number of walking trips in various European countries, and while visiting Dalmatia, did some drawings and photographs of rocks. In 1933 he settled in Paris and first expressed himself in his original experiments with photography—portraits and nudes of his companion, Agu (Agathe Schmidt), along with photo-collages and photomontages that he showed in 1935 at the Gravitations Gallery, under the pseudonym Raoul Michelet. As soon as he joined the surrealist group, in 1936, he did his series Triomphe de la stérilié, Penthésilée, Combats, Les Murs and Objets Fossiles, utilizing "paraglyph" (a relief effect) and solarization processes. Some of his works were montages of several photographs presented as a single image. He invented brûlage (burning), which consisted of plunging a negative in hot water before enlarging it, creating images such as Nébuleuse and L'Envers de la face. During the war, he lived for some time in Brussels, then participated in the activities of the resistant surrealists of La Main à la plume in France. In November 1943 the Francis Dasté bookstore and gallery in Paris exhibited twelve of his photographs and eleven drawings. In 1946 he began making engraved slates and gouaches. Combining these techniques, he also made pictures with pieces of slate integrated into the painted surface (Tableau aux fragments d'ardoise,1955, Pittsburgh Museum). His main themes were Labours and Torses and, some time later, Nus. In 1968 Ubac had his first retrospectives at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Charleroi and Brussels, and the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris. He was swamped with Public commissions stained-glass windows, tapestries, slate walls—which led him to deviate from surrealism. Only his illustrations for the poems of André Frénaud and Christian Dotremont recall his former Inspiration. To satisfy his collectors, he made new editions of his past surrealist photographs. At the end of his life, his last retrospectives were at the Fondation Maeght at Saint-Paul-de Vence in 1978 and the Musée Saint-Georges in Liege in 1981.

Rudolph Ubach (Ubac)

Born 1910 in Cologne; died 1985 in Dieudonné France.  

Penthésilée, Silver Gelatin Print, 1937