Born 28 July 1887
Died 2 October 1968
Duchamp, a French
artist, whose work is
most often associated
with the Dadaist,
and conceptual art.
Duchamp is commonly regarded, along with Henri Matisse and Pablo
Picasso, as one of the three artists who helped to define the revolutionary
developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the twentieth
century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture.
• Plastic arts are art forms which involve physical
manipulation of a plastic medium by molding or
modeling such as sculpture or ceramics. The term
has also been applied more broadly to all the visual
(non-literary, non-musical) arts.
• Materials for use in the plastic arts, in the narrower
definition, include those that can be carved or
shaped, such as stone or wood, concrete, or metal.
"Plastics" meaning certain synthetic organic resins
have been used ever since they were invented, but
the term "plastic arts" long preceded them.
Duchamp has had an immense impact on twentiethcentury and twenty first-century art. By World War I,
he had rejected the work of many of his fellow artists
(like Henri Matisse) as "retinal" art, intended only to
please the eye. Instead, Duchamp wanted to put art
back in the service of the mind.
Duchamp was painter, sculptor, chess player, and writer.
Nude Descending a
Staircase, No. 2
• Oil on canvas, 1912
• The work is widely regarded as a
Modernist classic and has become
one of the most famous of its time.
• In its first presentation at the
Parisian Salon des Indépendants, it
was rejected by the Cubists and
caused a huge stir during its
exhibition at the 1913 Armory Show
in New York.
• The work is now found in permanent
exhibition at the Louis and Walter
Arensberg Collection of the
Philadelphia Museum of Art in
Changing The Definition of Art
• Fountain 1917, replica 1964
Submitted for the exhibition of the Society of
Independent Artists in 1917, Fountain was
rejected by the committee, even though the
rules stated that all works would be accepted
from artists who paid the fee.
Fountain was displayed and photographed at
Alfred Stieglitz’s studio, and the photo published
in The Blind Man, but the original has been lost.
The work is regarded by some art historians and
theorists of the avant-garde, such as Peter
Bürger, as a major landmark in 20th century art.
Replicas commissioned by Duchamp in the 1960s
are now on display in a number of different
The work is one of what Duchamp
referred to as readymade, or more
specifically an assisted ready-made.
Pioneered by him, the readymade
involves taking mundane, often
utilitarian objects not generally
considered to be art and transfoming
them, by adding to them, changing
them, or (as in the case of his most
famous work Fountain) simply
renaming them and placing them in a
In L.H.O.O.Q. the objet trouvé ("found
object") is a cheap postcard
reproduction of Leonardo da Vinici’s
Mona Lisa onto which Duchamp drew
a moustache and beard in pencil and
appended the title.
Box in a Valise, 1966, mixed-media
assemblage: red leather box
replicas, photographs, and color
reproductions of eighty works by
Duchamp's Boîte-en-valise, or box in a suitcase, is
a portable miniature monograph including sixtynine reproductions of the artist's own work
Between 1935 and 1940,
he created a deluxe edition
of twenty boxes, each in a
brown leather carrying
case but with slight
variations in design and
A later edition consisting
of six different series
was created during the
1950s and 1960s; these
eliminated the suitcase,
used different colored
fabrics for the cover, and
altered the number of
Each box unfolds to reveal pull-out standing frames displaying Nude Descending a Staircase and
other works, diminutive Readymades hung in a vertical "gallery," and loose prints mounted on
paper. Duchamp included in each deluxe box one "original."
Surrealism and Conceptual Art
Photograph by Man Ray
Air de Paris 1939
Aire de Paris 1919
Marcel Duchamp, Mile of
String, 1942, New York
The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even
also know as The Large Glass
Duchamp carefully created The Bride Stripped Bare by
Her Bachelors, Even, working on the piece from 1915 to
1923. 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.
Duchamp's ideas for the Glass began in 1913, and he
made numerous notes and studies, as well as
preliminary works for the piece. The notes reflect the
creation of unique rules of physics, and myth which
describes the work. He published the notes and studies
as The Green Box in 1934.
The notes describe that his "hilarious picture" is
intended to depict the erotic encounter between the
"Bride," in the upper panel, and her nine "Bachelors"
gathered timidly below in an abundance of mysterious
mechanical apparatus in the lower panel.
The Large Glass was exhibited in 1926 at the Brooklyn
Museum before it was broken during transport and
carefully repaired by Duchamp. It is now part of the
permanent collection at the Philadelphia Museum of
Duchamp sanctioned replicas of The Large Glass, the
first in 1961 for an exhibition at Moderna Museet in
Stockholm and another in 1966 for the Tate Gallery in
London. The third replica is in Komaba
Museum, University of Tokyo.