1910: Ubac was born in Malmédy, a small town in the Belgian Ardennes.
1920-28: Schooling at the Athénée royal de Malmédy. Hiked in Europe. First, short-lived move to Paris in 1928.
1930-34: Second period in Paris. First contacts with the Surrealists. Briefly studied literature at the Sorbonne, soon abandoned for the artistic circles of Montparnasse. Otto Freundlich put Ubac in touch with the “progressive” artists of Cologne and he enrolled at the school of applied arts in that city, attending for more than a year and more particularly studying drawing and photography. Travelled to Austria, and spent a long period in Dalmatia (Croatia).
1934: Returned to Paris. In collaboration with Camille Bryen he published under the name of Raoul Michelet a collection of poems and photos entitled Actuation poétique.
1936-39: Closely involved with the Surrealists, in every aspect of their activities. The year 1937 saw his photos begin to appear in the journal Le Minotaure. At the same time, he learnt engraving at William Hayter’s Atelier 17.
1939-45: The war brought about the dispersal of the Surrealists; Ubac took refuge in Carcassonne in 1940, together with René Magritte and Jean Scutenaire. Repatriated to Belgium, he then divided his life between Brussels and Paris. In Paris, he contributed to the neo-Surrealist La Main à plume but was chiefly involved with the group around Jean Lescure’s journal Message. There, amongst others, he met Eluard, Queneau, and more notably André Frénaud, with whom he would develop a highly productive friendship. Took his distance from Surrealism.
1946: While staying in the Haute-Savoie region, Ubac picked up a piece of slate whose form he found attractive and drew on it with an old nail. He was fascinated by this new material, to which he would remain loyal throughout his life.
1947: Took up painting again, using mostly egg-based emulsions, avoiding the use of oils. Contributed to the magazine Troisième Convoi and frequented the artists of the Denise René gallery, among them Bazaine and his friends.
1948: Did the cover for Paul Eluard’s book Voir, illustrated by a number of painters.
1951: In January, Ubac had his first exhibition of paintings at Galerie Maeght, where he would go on to show regularly. The same year, in Wuppertal, he staged his first exhibition of works in slate, so deeply incised as to become carved reliefs.
He took part in the second CoBrA exhibition at Liège.
1954: Wons 4th Prize at the Carnegie Institute exhibition in Pittsburgh (U.S.A).
1957: Ubac bought a house at Dieudonne in the Oise département that he would eventually make his home.
1961: In his work with slate he engaged with the body in slim torsos finely striated, with landscape in reliefs whose parallel lines were energetically flexed or folded. Created a stained glass window in old glass with Braque, and another for the church at Varengeville.
1965: Took part in the CoBrA retrospective at Rotterdam.
1966: Showed at Galerie Maeght some twenty works from recent years. Torsos and ploughlands executed on panel covered in a mortar of synthetic resin, these played on both relief and colour.
1967: Maeght published two works illustrated by Ubac: Vieux Pays, poems by André Frénaud with thirteen original etchings, and La Poésie française et le Principe d’identité, a long essay by Yves Bonnefoy with two.
1968: Retrospective of Ubac’s painting and sculpture at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Charleroi, the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, and the Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris. Ubac also participated in group shows, notably the Pittsburgh International Exhibition, “L’Art vivant 1965-1968” at the Fondation Maeght, Montréal II, and the 7th Menton Biennale.
1969: Solo shows at the Maison de la Culture, Reims, and the Maison de la Culture, Amiens.
1970: A major monograph on Ubac published by Editions Maeght.
1971: Produced 5 steles, tall female figures sculpted in wood covered with a synthetic resin compound. Solo show of works in slate at the Comédie de Caen, retrospective at the Château de Ratailly. The period 1967-71 saw architects commission large mural mosaics for projects at Saint-Cyr, Orsay and Reims.
1972: Exhibition at Galerie Maeght, Paris.
1973: Exhibition at Galerie Michel Vokaer, Brussels.
1974: Exhibitions at the Musée Municipal d’Evreux and Galerie Maeght, Zurich.
1975: Exhibition at Galerie Protée, Toulouse, Musée de Metz and Musée de Luxembourg.
1976: Ubac spent two years working on monumental projects at the Lycée de Tomblaine, near Nancy, the Faculty of Science at Villeneuve-d’Ascq, at Charleroi, and at the Val-de-Grâce Hospital in Paris.
1978: Retrospective at Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence.
Exhibition at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Le Havre, and the Musée d’Evreux.
1979: Publication of Comme un sol plus obscur, a poem by Claude Esteban with hand-printed slate engravings by Ubac.
1980: Christopher Hewett’s Taranman Gallery, London, showed a series of 24 small format slates, unusual among Ubac’s work for their smooth, polished finish.
1981: Retrospective, Musée Saint-Georges, Liège.
1982: Exhibition of recent slates and drawings at Galerie Maeght, Paris.
1983: Exhibition of Ubac’s photographs from the Thirties at Galerie Maeght, Paris.
Charles Marq executed four stained glass windows to designs by Ubac for Nevers Cathedral.
1985: Unwell, Raoul Ubac retired to his home at Dieudonne, where he died.