The rise of nationalism was the subtext for Sylvain Itkine’s 1937 world premiere of Jarry’s 1899 play Ubu enchaîné. André Breton oversaw the design of the program, which contained texts and illustrations by Paul Eluard, Pablo Picasso, René Magritte, and other figures associated with Surrealism. Max Ernst’s set designs for the production were based on his collages of found imagery and drawings. Breton called Jarry “the master of us all.” For the Surrealists, Ubu was not only a tyrant: in their collaborative deck of tarot cards Le jeu de Marseilles, the group used Jarry’s woodcut portrait of Ubu as the joker.
Max Ernst (1891–1976), set design for Alfred Jarry, Ubu enchaîné, 1937, graphite and wax crayon, with collage of cut relief-printed papers, on tan wove paper. The Art Institute of Chicago. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph R. Shapiro, 1992.220. © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.