On the fortieth anniversary of Jarry’s death, Joan Miró (1893–1983) signed a contract to illustrate Ubu roi. The ambitious edition took two decades to complete. The Catalan painter had been drawn to Jarry’s work since the 1920s, not only his most celebrated play but also his drawings, theoretical writings, and the novels Docteur Faustroll and Le surmâle. For Miró, as for Picasso, Ubu symbolized the corruption of the Franco regime in Spain. As he grew older, he expanded his interpretation of the character in projects both sinister and playful, creating his own adventures that imagined Ubu’s childhood. Eventually, Miró’s conception of Ubu came to encompass all that was base in humanity—including, the painter once said, the art market.
Alfred Jarry (1873–1907), Ubu roi, lithographies originales de Joan Miró (Paris: Tériade éditeur, 1966). The Morgan Library & Museum, gift of Robert J. and Linda Klieger Stillman, 2017. PML 197100. © Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris 2019.