Twentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art
This painting belongs to a series of forty-eight portraits that Chimes painted between 1973 and 1978 of writers, inventors, and philosophers. The writer Alfred Jarry (1873–1907) appears several times in the series. Chiefly known today as the creator of the anarchic play Ubu Roi (King Ubu), Jarry provoked a riot in 1896 when his play opened in Paris and ushered in the modern era of theater. Chimes based his image of Jarry on a photograph taken by Nadar at the height of the Ubu Roi scandal. The picture shows Jarry with his distinctive mane of shoulder-length dark hair, oval face, and piercing black eyes. The artist cropped the image to focus on the brooding visage of the playwright, then twenty-three years old.
Chimes's haunting series of portraits reveals his strong feelings of affinity and continuity with his beloved hero, Alfred Jarry, and others who have followed in his footsteps. Each intimate sepia-toned image, reminiscent of a nineteenth-century daguerreotype, is enshrined within a crafted, oversized wooden frame that situates the work between a family snapshot and an icon. Twentieth Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2000), p. 129.