Marcel Duchamp Biography
Marcel Duchamp (28 July 1887 – 2 October 1968; French
dyˈʃɑ̃]) was a
French/American artist whose work is most often associated with the Dadaist
movements. Duchamp's output influenced the development of post-World
War I Western art. He advised
modern art collectors, such as Peggy Guggenheim and other prominent figures, thereby
helping to shape the tastes of Western art during this period.
A playful man, Duchamp challenged
conventional thought about artistic
processes and art marketing, not so much by writing, but through
subversive actions such as dubbing a urinal art and naming it Fountain. He produced relatively few
artworks, while moving quickly through the avant-garde
circles of his time.
"The creative act is not performed by
the artist alone; the spectator
brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and
interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to
the creative act."
Marcel Duchamp was born in Blainville-Crevon Seine-Maritime in the Haute-Normandie region
of France, and grew up in a family that enjoyed cultural activities. The
art of painter and engraver Emile Nicolle,
his maternal grandfather, filled the house, and the family liked to
play chess, read books, paint, and make music together.
Of Eugene and Lucie Duchamp's seven
children, one died as an infant
and four became successful artists. Marcel Duchamp was the brother of:
As a child, with his two older brothers
already away from home at
school in Rouen, Duchamp was close to his sister Suzanne, who was a
willing accomplice in games and activities conjured by his fertile
imagination. At 10 years old, Duchamp followed in his brothers'
footsteps when he left home and began schooling at the Lycée Corneille
in Rouen. For the next 7 years, he was locked into an educational regime
which focused on intellectual development. Though he was not an
outstanding student, his best subject was mathematics and he won two
mathematics prizes at the school. He also won a prize for drawing in
1903, and at his commencement in 1904 he won a coveted first prize,
validating his recent decision to become an artist.
He learned academic drawing from a
teacher who unsuccessfully
attempted to protect his students from Impressionism,
Post-Impressionism, and other avant-garde
influences. However, Duchamp's true artistic mentor was his brother
Jacques Villon, whose fluid and incisive style he sought to imitate. At
14, his first serious art attempts were drawings and watercolors
depicting his sister Suzanne in various poses and activities. That
summer he also painted landscapes in an Impressionist style using oils.
Duchamp's early art works align with Post-Impressionist styles. He
experimented with classical techniques and subjects, as well as with Cubism
When he was later asked about what had influenced him at the time,
Duchamp cited the work of Symbolist
Redon, whose approach to art
was not outwardly anti-academic, but
He studied art at the Académie Julian from 1904 to 1905, but preferred playing
billiards to attending classes. During this time Duchamp drew and sold
cartoons which reflected his ribald humor. Many of the drawings use
visual and/or verbal puns. Such play with words and symbols engaged his
imagination for the rest of his life.
In 1905 he began his compulsory military
service, working for a
printer in Rouen. There he learned typography
processes – skills he would use in his later work.
Due to his eldest brother Jacques' membership in the prestigious Académie
royale de peinture et de sculpture Duchamp's work was exhibited in
the 1908 Salon d'Automne. The following year his work
was featured in the Salon des
Indépendants. Of Duchamp's
pieces in the show, critic Guillaume
Apollinaire--who was to
become a friend—criticized what he called "Duchamp's very ugly nudes."
Duchamp also became lifelong friends with exuberant artist Francis Picabia after meeting him at the 1911 Salon d'
Automne, and Picabia proceeded to introduce him to a lifestyle of fast
cars and 'high' living.
In 1911, at Jacques' home in Puteaux,
the brothers hosted a regular discussion group with other artists and
writers including Picabia, Robert Delaunay, Fernand Léger, Roger de
la Fresnaye, Albert Gleizes, Jean Metzinger, Juan
Gris, and Alexander
Archipenko. The group came to
be known as the Puteaux Group, and the
artists' work was dubbed Orphic cubism. Uninterested in the Cubists' seriousness or in
their focus on visual matters, Duchamp did not join in discussions of
Cubist theory, and gained a reputation of being shy. However, that same
year he painted in a Cubist style, and added an impression of motion by
using repetitive imagery.
During this period Duchamp's fascination
with transition, change,
movement and distance became manifest, and like many artists of the
time, he was intrigued with the concept of depicting a "Fourth dimension" in art.
Works from this period included his
first "machine" painting, Coffee
Mill (Moulin à café)
(1911), which he gave to his brother Raymond Duchamp-Villon. The Coffee
Mill shows similarity to the
"grinder" mechanism of the Large
Glass he was to paint years
In his 1911 Portrait
of Chess Players (Portrait
de joueurs d'echecs) there is the Cubist overlapping frames and
multiple perspectives of his two brothers playing chess, but to that
Duchamp added elements conveying the unseen mental activity of the
players. (Notably, "échec" is French for "failure".)
Descending a Staircase No.2
Duchamp's first work to provoke
significant controversy was Nude
Descending a Staircase,
No. 2 (Nu descendant un escalier n° 2) (1912). The
painting depicts the mechanistic motion of a nude, with superimposed
facets, similar to motion pictures. It shows elements of both the
fragmentation and synthesis of the Cubists,
and the movement and dynamism of the Futurists.
He first submitted the piece to appear
at the Cubist Salon des
Indépendants, but jurist Albert Gleizes asked Duchamp's brothers to have him
voluntarily withdraw the painting, or to paint over the title that he
had painted on the work and rename it something else. Duchamp's brothers
did approach him with Gleizes' request, but Duchamp quietly refused. Of
the incident Duchamp later recalled, "I said nothing to my brothers.
But I went immediately to the show and took my painting home in a taxi.
It was really a turning point in my life, I can assure you. I saw that I
would not be very much interested in groups after that."
He later submitted the painting to the
Show" in New York City. The
exhibition was officially named the
International Exhibition of Modern Art, displayed works of American
artists, and was also the first major exhibition of modern trends coming
out of Paris. American show-goers, accustomed to realistic art, were
scandalized, and the Nude was at the center of much of the
"retinal art" behind
At about this time, Duchamp read Max
Stirner's philosophical tract, The Ego and Its Own, the study of which he
considered another turning point in his artistic and intellectual
development. He called it "...a remarkable book ... which advances no
formal theories, but just keeps saying that the ego is always there in
Duchamp also noted the stage adaptation
of Raymond Roussel's 1910 novel, Impressions d'Afrique
which featured plots that turned in on themselves, word play,
surrealistic sets and humanoid machines. He credited the drama with
having radically changed his approach to art, and having inspired him to
begin the creation of his The Bride
Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even, also known as The Large
While in Germany in 1912 he painted the
last of his Cubist-like
paintings and he started "Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors" image,
and began making plans for The
Large Glass — scribbling short
notes to himself, sometimes with hurried sketches. It would be over 10
years before this piece was completed. Little else is known about the
two-month stay in Germany except that the friend he visited was intent
on showing him the sights and the nightlife.
Later that year he travelled with
Picabia, Apollinaire and Gabrielle
Buffet-Picabia through the Jura
mountains, an adventure that
Buffet-Picabia described as one of their "forays of demoralization,
which were also forays of witticism and clownery ... the disintegration
of the concept of art." Duchamp's notes from the trip avoid logic and
sense, and have a surrealistic, mythical connotation.
Duchamp painted few canvases after 1912,
and in those he did, he
attempted to remove "painterly" effects, and
instead to use a technical drawing approach.
His broad interests led him to an
exhibition of aviation technology
during this period, after which Duchamp said to his friend Constantin Brancusi,
"Painting is washed up. Who will ever do anything better than that
propeller? Tell me, can you do that?" Brancusi later sculpted bird
forms, which U.S. Customs
officials mistook for aviation parts and
for which they attempted to collect import duties.
During this decade Duchamp began working
as a librarian in the
Bibliotèque Sainte-Geneviève, where he earned a living wage and withdrew
from painting circles into scholarly realms. He studied math and
physics – areas in which exciting new discoveries were taking place. The
theoretical writings of Henri Poincaré particularly intrigued and inspired
Duchamp. Poincaré postulated that the laws believed to govern matter
were created solely by the minds that "understood" them and that no
theory could be considered "true." "The things themselves are not what
science can reach..., but only the relations between things. Outside of
these relations there is no knowable reality", Poincaré wrote in 1902.
Duchamp's own art-science experiments
began during his tenure at the
library. To make one of his favorite pieces, 3
Standard Stoppages (3
stoppages étalon), he dropped three 1-meter lengths of thread
onto prepared canvases, one at a time, from a height of 1 meter. The
threads landed in three random undulating positions. He varnished them
into place on the blue-black canvas strips and attached them to glass.
He then cut three wood slats into the shapes of the curved strings, and
put all the pieces into a croquet box. Three small leather signs with
the title printed in gold were glued to each of the "stoppage"
backgrounds. The piece appears to literally follow Poincaré's School
of the Thread, part of a book on
Work on The Large Glass
continued into 1913, with his
invention of inventing a repertoire of forms. He made notes, sketches
and painted studies, and even drew some of his ideas on the wall of his
In his studio he mounted a bicycle wheel
upside down onto a stool,
spinning it occasionally just to watch it. Later he denied that its
creation was purposeful, though it has come to be known as the first of
his "Readymades". "I enjoyed
looking at it", he said. "Just as I enjoy looking at the flames dancing
in the fireplace."
Descending a Staircase No. 2
scandalized Americans at the Armory
Show, and the sale of all four
of his paintings in the show
financed his trip to America in 1915.
After World War I was declared in 1914, with his brothers and many
friends in military service and himself exempted, Duchamp felt
uncomfortable in Paris. He decided to emigrate to the then-neutral
United States. To his surprise, he found he was a celebrity when he
arrived in New York in 1915, where he quickly befriended art patron Katherine
Dreier and artist Man Ray.
Duchamp's circle included art patrons Louise and Walter
Conrad Arensberg, actress and
artist Beatrice Wood and Francis Picabia, as well as other avant-garde
figures. Though he spoke little English, in the course of supporting
himself by giving French lessons and through some library work, he
quickly learned the language.
For two years the Arensbergs, who would
remain his friends and
patrons for 42 years, were the landlords of his studio. In lieu of rent,
they agreed that his payment would be The Large Glass. An art
gallery offered Duchamp $10,000 per year in exchange for all of his
yearly production, but Duchamp declined the offer, preferring to work on
The Large Glass.
 Société Anonyme
Duchamp created the Société
Anonyme in 1920, along with Katherine
Dreier and Man Ray.
This was the beginning of his life-long involvement in art dealing and
collecting. The group collected modern art works, and arranged modern
art exhibitions and lectures throughout the 1930s.
By this time Walter Pach, one of the coordinators of the 1913
Show, sought Duchamp's advice
on modern art. Beginning with Société
Anonyme, Dreier also depended on Duchamp's counsel in gathering her
collection, as did Arensberg. Later Peggy Guggenheim, Museum of Modern Art directors Alfred Barr and James Johnson Sweeney consulted with Duchamp on
their modern art collections and shows.
New York Dada
had a less serious tone than that of European Dadaism, and was not a
particularly organized venture. Duchamp's friend Picabia connected with the Dada group in Zürich,
bringing to New York the Dadaist ideas of absurdity and "anti-art". A
group met almost nightly at the Arensberg home, or caroused in Greenwich Village. Together with Man Ray,
Duchamp contributed his ideas and humor to the New York activities,
many of which ran concurrent with the development of his Readymades and The
Glass. They also worked on the
concept of "found
The most prominent example of Duchamp's
association with Dada was his
submission of Fountain, a urinal, to the Society
of Independent Artists
exhibit in 1917. Artworks in the Independent Artists shows were not
selected by jury, and all pieces submitted were displayed. However, the
show committee insisted that Fountain was not art, and rejected
it from the show. This caused an uproar amongst the Dadaists, and led
Duchamp to resign from the board of the Independent Artists.
Along with Henri-Pierre
Roché and Beatrice
Wood, Duchamp published a Dada
magazine in New York, entitled The
Blind Man, which included
art, literature, humor and
When he returned to Paris after World
War I, Duchamp did not
participate in the Dada group.
"Readymades" were found objects which
Duchamp chose and presented as
art. The first such object was Bicycle
Wheel, an inverted bicycle
wheel mounted on a stool, which
Duchamp assembled in 1913. However, he did not coin the term "readymade"
It is necessary to arrive at selecting
an object with the idea of not
being impressed by this object on the basis of enjoyment of any order.
However, it is difficult to select an object that absolutely does not
interest you, not only on the day on which you select it, and which does
not have any chance of becoming attractive or beautiful and which is
neither pleasant to look at nor particularly ugly. (Marcel Duchamp)
Bottle Rack (1914), a bottle drying rack signed by Duchamp,
considered to be the first "pure" readymade. Prelude to a Broken Arm
(1915), a snow shovel, also called In Advance of the Broken Arm,
followed soon after. His Fountain, a urinal signed with the
pseudonym "R. Mutt", shocked the art world in 1917. Fountain
selected in 2004 as "the most influential artwork of the 20th century"
by 500 renowned artists and historians.
In 1919, Duchamp made a parody of
Lisa by adorning a cheap
reproduction of the painting with a
mustache and goatee. To this he added the inscription L.H.O.O.Q.,
a phonetic game which, when read out loud in French quickly sounds like
"Elle a chaud au cul". This can be translated as "She has a hot
ass", implying that the woman in the painting is in a state of sexual
excitement and availability. It may also have been intended as a
Freudian joke, referring to Leonardo da Vinci's alleged homosexuality.
Duchamp gave a "loose" translation of L.H.O.O.Q. as "there is fire down
below" in a late interview with Arturo Schwarz.
According to Rhonda Roland Shearer, the apparent Mona Lisa
reproduction is in fact a copy modeled partly on Duchamp's own face.
Research published by Shearer also speculates that Duchamp himself may
have created some of the objects which he claimed to have been "found".
 The Large Glass
Duchamp carefully created a masterpiece,
The Bride Stripped Bare
by Her Bachelors, Even (The
Large Glass), working on the
piece from 1915 to 1923, with the
exception of periods in Buenos Aires and Paris in 1918 - 1920. He
executed the work on two panes of glass with materials such as lead
foil, fuse wire, and dust. It combines chance procedures, plotted
perspective studies, and laborious craftsmanship. His notes for the
piece, published as The Green Box, reflect the creation of unique
rules of physics, and a mythology which describes the work. He stated
that his "hilarious picture" is intended to depict the erratic encounter
between a bride and her nine bachelors.
Until 1969 when the Philadelphia
Museum of Art
revealed Duchamp's Etant donnés tableau, The
Glass was thought to have been
his last major work.
Duchamp's interest in kinetic
works can be discerned as early
as the notes for The Large Glass and the Bicycle
Wheel readymade, and
despite losing interest in "retinal art",
he retained interest in visual phenomena.
In 1920, with help from Man Ray,
Duchamp built a motorized sculpture, Rotative plaques verre, optique
de précision ("Rotary Glass
Plates, Precision Optics"). The piece,
which he did not consider to be art, involved a motor to spin pieces of
rectangular glass on which were painted segments of a circle. When the
apparatus spins, an optical illusion occurs, in which the segments
appear to be closed concentric circles. (Animation of Rotary Glass Plates)
Ray set up equipment to
photograph the initial experiment, but when
they turned the machine on for the second time, a belt broke, and caught
a piece of the glass, which after glancing off Man Ray's head,
shattered into bits.
After moving back to Paris in 1923, at André Breton's urging and through the financing of Jacques
Doucet, Duchamp built another
optical device based on the first one
Demisphère, optique de
précision (Rotary Demisphere,
Precision Optics). This time the
optical element was a globe cut in half, with black concentric circles
painted on it. When it spins, the circles appear to move backwards and
forwards in space. Duchamp asked that Doucet not exhibit the apparatus
Rotoreliefs were the next phase of Duchamp's spinning works.
To make the optical "play toys" he painted designs on flat cardboard
circles and spun them on a phonographic turntable. When spinning, the
flat disks appeared three-dimensional. He had a printer produce 500 sets
of six of the designs, and set up a booth at a 1935 Paris inventors'
show to sell them. The venture was a financial disaster, but some
optical scientists thought they might be of use in restoring
three-dimensional stereoscopic sight to people who have lost vision one
display of the Rotoreliefs)
In collaboration with Man Ray
and Marc Allégret, Duchamp filmed early versions of the Rotoreliefs
and they named the film Anémic
Later, in Alexander Calder's studio in 1931, while
looking at the sculptor's kinetic works, Duchamp suggested that these
should be called"mobiles". Calder agreed to use this novel term in his
upcoming show. To this day, sculptures of this type are called
Main article: Rrose Sélavy
"Rrose Sélavy", also spelled Rose
Sélavy, was one of Duchamp's
pseudonyms. The name, a pun, sounds like the
French phrase "Eros, c'est la vie",
which may be translated as "Eros, such is life". It has also been read
as "arroser la vie" ("to make a toast to life").
Sélavy emerged in 1921 in a series of
photographs by Man Ray
showing Duchamp dressed as a woman. Through the 1920s Man Ray and
Duchamp collaborated on more photos of Sélavy. Duchamp later used the
name as the byline on written material and signed several creations with
it. These included at least one sculpture,
Why Not Sneeze
Rrose Sélavy?. The
sculpture, a type of readymade called an assemblage,
consists of an oral thermometer,
and several dozen small cubes of marble
cubes inside a birdcage.
The inspiration for the name "Rrose
Sélavy" may have been Belle da Costa Greene, J.P. Morgan's librarian of the Pierpont
Following the death of J.P. Morgan, Sr., Greene became the Library's
director, working there for a total of forty-three years. Empowered by
the Morgans, she built the library collection, buying and selling rare manuscripts, books and art.[citation
art to chess
In 1918 Duchamp made a hiatus from the
New York art scene,
interrupting his work on the Large
Glass, and went to Buenos
He remained for nine months and often
He even carved from wood his own chess set, with the assistance of a local
craftsman who made the knights. He moved to Paris in 1919, and then back to the
United States in 1920. Upon his return to Paris in 1923, Duchamp was, in
essence, no longer a practicing artist. Instead, he played chess,
he studied for the rest of his life to the exclusion of most other
Duchamp can be seen, very briefly,
playing chess with Man Ray
in the short film Entr'acte (1924) by Rene Clair. He designed the 1925 Poster for the
Third French Chess Championship, and as a competitor in the event,
finished at fifty percent (3-3, with two draws). Thus he earned the
title of chess master. During this period his
fascination with chess so distressed his first wife that she glued his
pieces to the board. Duchamp continued to play in the French
Championships and also in the Olympiads
from 1928–1933, favoring hypermodern openings such as the Nimzo-Indian.
Sometime in the early 1930s, Duchamp
reached the height of his
ability, but realized that he had little chance of winning recognition
in top-level chess. In following years, his participation in chess
tournaments declined, but he discovered correspondence
chess and became a chess
journalist, writing weekly newspaper columns. While his contemporaries
were achieving spectacular success in the art world by selling their
works to high-society collectors, Duchamp observed "I am still a victim
of chess. It has all the beauty of art - and much more. It cannot be commercialized. Chess is
much purer than art in its social position." On another occasion,
Duchamp elaborated, “The chess pieces are the block alphabet which
shapes thoughts; and these thoughts, although making a visual design on
the chess-board, express their beauty abstractly, like a poem... I have
come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess
players, all chess players are artists.”
In 1932 Duchamp teamed with chess
theorist Vitaly Halberstadt to publish L'opposition et cases
conjuguées sont réconciliées (Opposition and Sister Squares are
Reconciled), known as corresponding
squares. This treatise
describes the Lasker-Reichhelm
extremely rare type of position that can arise in the endgame.
Using enneagram-like charts that fold upon
themselves, the authors demonstrated that in this position, the most
Black can hope for is a draw.
The theme of the "endgame" is important
to an understanding of
Duchamp's complex attitude towards his artistic career. Irish playwright
Samuel Beckett was an associate of Duchamp, and used the
theme as the narrative device for the 1957 play of the same name, "Endgame". In 1968, Duchamp played an artistically
chess match with avant-garde composer John
Cage, at a concert entitled
"Reunion". Music was produced by a
series of photoelectric cells underneath the chessboard, triggered
sporadically by normal game play.
On choosing a career in chess, Duchamp
said: "If Bobby
Fischer came to me for advice, I
certainly would not discourage him
- as if anyone could - but I would try to make it positively clear that
he will never have any money from chess, live a monk-like existence and
know more rejection than any artist ever has, struggling to be known
Duchamp left a legacy to chess in the form of an enigmatic endgame
problem he composed in 1943. The problem was included in the
announcement for Julian Lev's gallery exhibition "Through the Big End of
the Opera Glass", printed on translucent paper with the faint
inscription: "White to play and win." Grandmasters and endgame
specialists have since grappled with the problem, with most concluding
that there is no solution.
involvement and marriages
Although Duchamp was no longer
considered to be an active artist, he
continued to consult with artists, art dealers and collectors. From 1925
he often travelled between France and the United States, and made New
York's Greenwich Village his home in 1942.
In June 1927, Duchamp married Lydie
Sarazin-Lavassor, however, they
divorced six months later. It was rumored that Duchamp had chosen a
marriage of convenience, because Sarazin-Lavassor was the daughter of a
wealthy automobile manufacturer. Early in January 1928, Duchamp said
that he could no longer bear the responsibility and confinement of
marriage, and soon thereafter they were divorced.
From the mid-1930s onwards, he
collaborated with the Surrealists,
however, he did not join the movement despite the coaxing of André Breton. From then until 1944, together with Max
Ernst, Eugenio Granell and Breton, Duchamp edited the Surrealist periodical VVV, and also served as an advisory editor for the
magazine View, which featured him in its March
1945 edition, thus introducing him to a broader American audience.
In 1954, he and Alexina "Teeny" Sattler married, and they remained together
until his death. Duchamp became a United States citizen in 1955.
His influence on the art world remained
behind the scenes until the
late 1950s, when he was "discovered" by young artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper
Johns, who were eager to escape
the dominance of Abstract
Interest in Duchamp was reignited in the
1960s, and he gained
international public recognition. 1963 saw his first retrospective
exhibition at the Pasadena Art Museum, and in 1966 the Tate Gallery hosted a large exhibit of his work.
Other major institutions, including the Philadelphia Art
Museum and the Metropolitan
Museum of Art,
followed, with large showings of Duchamp's work. He was invited to
lecture on art and to participate in formal discussions, as well as
sitting for interviews with major publications.
As the last surviving member of the
Duchamp family of artists, in
1967 Duchamp helped to organize an exhibition in Rouen, France, called
"Les Duchamp: Jacques Villon, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Marcel Duchamp,
Suzanne Duchamp." Parts of this family exhibition were later shown again
at the Musée
National d'Art Moderne in
Duchamp was the designer of the 1938
Exhibition, which was held at the Gallerie des Beaux-arts, Paris. The
show featured more than 60 artists from different countries, including
approximately 300 paintings, objects, collages, photographs and
The surrealists wanted to create an
exhibition which in itself would
be a creative act, and called on Duchamp to do so. At the exhibition's
entrance he placed Salvador Dalí's Rainy Taxi This work consisted of a taxicab
rigged to produce a drizzle of water down the inside of the windows, a
shark-headed creature in the driver's seat, and a blond mannequin
crawling with live snails in the back. In this way Duchamp greeted
entering patrons, who were in full evening dress.
Surrealist Street filled one side of the lobby with mannequins
dressed by various surrealists. The main hall was a simulation of a
dark subterranean cave with 1,200 coal bags suspended from the ceiling.
Illumination was provided only by a single light bulb, so patrons were
given flashlights with which to view the art.
An installation by Wolfgang Paalen was composed of oak leaves and a
water-filled pond with water lilies and reeds, and the aroma of roasting
coffee filled the air. Around midnight, the visitors witnessed the
dancing shimmer of a sparsely dressed girl who suddenly arose from the
reeds, jumped on a bed, shrieked hysterically, then disappeared just as
quickly. Much to the surrealists' satisfaction the exhibition
scandalized the viewers.
In 1942, for the First Papers of Surrealism show in New York,
surrealists again called on Duchamp to design the exhibition. This time
he wove a three-dimensional web of string throughout the rooms of the
space, in some cases making it almost impossible to see the works. Duchamp made a
secret arrangement with an associate's son to bring young friends to the
opening of the show. When the finely dressed patrons arrived, they
found a dozen children in athletic clothes kicking and passing balls,
and skipping rope. Duchamp's design of the catalog for the show included
"found", rather than posed, photographs of the artists.
 Etant donnés
Main article: Etant donnés
Duchamp's final major art work surprised
the art world that believed
he had given up art for chess 25 years earlier. Entitled Etant donnés: 1° la chute d'eau / 2° le
gaz d'éclairage ("Given: 1. The
Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating
Gas"), it is a tableau, visible only through a peep hole in a wooden
door. A nude woman can be
seen lying on her back with her face hidden, legs spread, and one hand
holding a gas lamp in the air against a landscape backdrop. Duchamp had worked
secretly on the piece from 1946 to 1966 in his Greenwich Village studio while even his closest friends
thought he had abandoned art.
Marcel Duchamp died on October 2, 1968
in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, and is buried
in the Rouen Cemetery, in Rouen,
France. His grave bears the epitaph, "D'ailleurs,
c'est toujours les autres qui meurent;" or "Besides, it's always
other people who die."
A quotation erroneously attributed to
Duchamp suggests a negative
attitude toward later trends in 20th-century art:
This Neo-Dada, which they call New
Realism, Pop Art, Assemblage,
etc., is an easy way out, and lives on what Dada did. When I discovered
the ready-mades I sought to discourage aesthetics. In Neo-Dada they have
taken my readymades and found aesthetic beauty in them, I threw the
bottle-rack and the urinal into their faces as a challenge and now they
admire them for their aesthetic beauty.
However, this was actually written in
1961 by fellow Dadaist Hans Richter, in the second person,
i.e. "You threw the bottle-rack...". Although a marginal note in the
letter suggests that Duchamp generally approved of the statement,
Richter did not make the distinction clear until many years later.
Duchamp's attitude was actually more
favorable, as evidenced by
another statement made in 1964:
Pop Art is a return to "conceptual"
painting, virtually abandoned,
except by the Surrealists, since Courbet, in favour of retinal painting... If you take a
Campbell soup can and repeat it 50 times, you are not interested in the
retinal image. What interests you is the concept that wants to put 50
Campbell soup cans on a canvas.
The Prix Marcel Duchamp (Marcel Duchamp
Prize), established in 2000, is an annual award given to a young artist
by the Centre
Georges Pompidou. In 2004, as
a testimony to the legacy of Duchamp's work to the art world, his Fountain
was voted "most influential artwork of the 20th century" by a panel of
prominent artists and art historians.
 See also
- "Unless a picture shocks,it is
- "Chess can be described as the movement
of pieces eating one
- "I am interested in ideas, not merely
in visual products. "
- "I am still a victim of chess. It has
all the beauty of art - and
much more. It cannot be commercialized. Chess is much purer than art in
its social position."
- "I don't believe in art. I believe in
- "I have forced myself to contradict
myself in order to avoid
conforming to my own taste."
- "Living is more a question of what one
spends than what one makes."
- "The individual, man as a man, man as a
brain, if you like,
interests me more than what he makes, because I've noticed that most
artists only repeat themselves."
Tomkins: Duchamp: A Biography.
Marcel Duchamp, from Session on the Creative Act, Convention of the
American Federation of Arts, Houston, Texas, April 1957.
Tomkins: Duchamp: A Biography, pages 181-186.
urinal tops art survey",
BBC news 1 December 2004.
Marco De (2003). "Mona
Lisa: Who is Hidden Behind
the Woman with the Mustache?".
Art Science Research Laboratory. http://www.artscienceresearchlab.org/articles/panorama.htm. Retrieved
27 April 2008.
Tomkins: Duchamp: A Biography, pages 227-228.
Tomkins: Duchamp: A Biography, pages 254-255.
Tomkins: Duchamp: A Biography, pages 301-303.
Tomkins: Duchamp: A Biography, pages 294.
- ^ "Becoming
Duchamp" by Sylvère
Brady, Frank: Bobby Fischer:
profile of a prodigy, Courier
Publications, 1989; p. 207.
Beliavsky, A & Mikhalchishin, A: Winning Endgame Technique
Hulten, Pontus. Marcel
Duchamp, Work and Life:
Ephemerides on and about Marcel Duchamp and Rrose Selavy, 1887-1968.
Pages 8–9 June (1927) to 25 January (1928). ISBN
Marcel Duchamp: The
Concept of the Readymade in Post-War and Contemporary American Art"
by Thomas Girst at toutfait.com, Issue 5 2003)
- Tomkins, Calvin: Duchamp: A Biography, Henry Holt and
Company, Inc., 1996. ISBN
- Seigel, Jerrold: The Private Worlds of Marcel Duchamp,
University of California Press, 1995. ISBN
- Hulten, Pontus (editor): Marcel Duchamp: Work and Life, The
MIT Press, 1993. ISBN
Arman: Marcel Duchamp plays and wins, Marcel
et gagne, Marval Press, 1984
- Cabanne, Pierre: Dialogs with Marcel Duchamp, Da Capo Press,
Inc., 1979 (1969 in French), ISBN
Bottles Belle Greene: Just
Desserts For His Canning by
Bonnie Jean Garner (with text boxes by Stephen Jay Gould)
- Gibson, Michael: Duchamp-Dada, (in
French, Nouvelles Editions
Françaises-Casterman, 1990) International Art Book Award of the Vasari
Prize in 1991.
- Sanouillet, Michel and Peterson, Elner,
The Writings of Marcel
Duchamp. NY: Da Capo Press,
- Catherine Perret Marcel Duchamp, le manieur
de gravité, Ed. CNDP, Paris, 1998
- Duchamp works