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Ubu roi: drame en cinq actes

A work made of mary reynolds binding: full tan morocco binding; boards die cut in the shape of u; onlays on spine in shape of b; black silk endleaves; crown stamped in gold on front endleaf; author stamped in gold on back endleaf; gilt edges; original paper covers bound in. binding designed by marcel duchamp..

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  • A work made of mary reynolds binding: full tan morocco binding; boards die cut in the shape of u; onlays on spine in shape of b; black silk endleaves; crown stamped in gold on front endleaf; author stamped in gold on back endleaf; gilt edges; original paper covers bound in. binding designed by marcel duchamp..

Date:

Paris: Librarie Charpentier et Fasquelle, 1921

Artist:

Mary Reynolds
American, 1891-1950

About this artwork

This binding is perhaps the best known and most successful of the collaborations between Reynolds and Duchamp. On November 26, 1934, Duchamp visited his close friend Henri-Pierre Roché in Arago and excitedly reported on a binding that he had just designed for Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi that Mary Reynolds was going to execute. Reynolds and Duchamp created out of the binding itself an extraordinarily clever pun. Both the front and back covers are cut-out “U’s” covered in rich earth tones; the spine is a soft caramel B. The endpapers are made of black moiré silk. A gold crown, signifying the puppet king, is imprinted on the front flyleaf and visible through the front cut-out “U”. The author’s name is imprinted in gold on the back flyleaf and is similarly visible through the back U. The binding spread open spells “UBU.”

Reynolds must have spent considerable time executing this binding. We know from a letter from Duchamp, responding to a question from Katharine Kuh, that the binding was not completed until 1935. It is expertly and lovingly crafted. Both Duchamp and Reynolds were so pleased with the final work, that another copy was bound identically for the American collectors Walter and Louise Arensberg (Philadelphia Museum of Art).

Status

Currently Off View

Department

Ryerson and Burnham Libraries Special Collections

Artist

Mary Reynolds

Title

Ubu roi: drame en cinq actes

Date

1921

Medium

Mary Reynolds binding: full tan morocco binding; boards die cut in the shape of U; onlays on spine in shape of B; black silk endleaves; crown stamped in gold on front endleaf; author stamped in gold on back endleaf; gilt edges; original paper covers bound in. Binding designed by Marcel Duchamp.

Dimensions

16.8 × 13.5 × 2.8 cm (190 pages)

Credit Line

Mary Reynolds Collection, Ryerson & Burnham Libraries

Reference Number

2019.180

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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