Thursday, 20 January 2011

Marcel Duchamps

The book, Marcel Duchamp 1887 by Calvin Tomkins published by Rehtt  Austell 1966, has been very enlightening, it is not the usual critic writing full of jargon but an interesting read about Duchamp's life and work.  It has changed my view of his work, although I still have difficulty with readymades.  I had thought he was without humour, but I was wrong.  I do however, think "Etant Donné" goes a bit too far.  The thought and work that went into "The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even" is quite remarkable, and even after an accident which splintered the glass into many pieces, Duchamp repaired it.  Unfortunately, Bridgeman do not have a copy but that do have his Green Book (although it looks brown here) which included all of his sketches and writing on the painting.

I think it is a pity he did not continue painting, he felt he could have been seduced by beauty and he wanted to move away from representational art altogether, although before he did he painted in the Cubist style, "Nude descending a Staircase" which caused a stir when it was exhibited.

He did a freer flowing version of this subject which can be viewed at

One of his rare representational paintings is "Chess Game, 1910" which he went on to develop into a Cubist painting.  He also did a remarkable painting of his father, but it is not in the Bridgeman Library. He also did a Cubist version entitled Chess Players

He moved through Art to Anti-art influencing and influenced by, Dada. The opportunity this group gave to the art world was the chance to anhilate art and therefore create it, albeit in a new and, to many,  puzzling way.

Reference and Source material:
The World of Marcel Duchamps, Calvin Tomkins et al, Time Life1966

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