Marcel Duchamp

In April 1917, the American Society of Independent Artists decided to reject a submission to their open exhibition. The artwork in question was a men’s upturned urinal entitled Fountain and signed by an R. Mutt. It later transpired this was the pseudonym of the artist Marcel Duchamp and Fountain was an early ‘readymade’, a new concept in art whereby an ordinary object is redefined by the artist as a work of art. This wild and provocative idea was to transform the trajectory of art in the 20th century, and continues to resonate today.

Duchamp was born in Blainville-Crevon, Normandy in 1887 into a prosperous family. His grandfather had been a painter and both his sister Suzanne Duchamp and older brother Raymond Duchamp-Villon became artists.

In 1906, he settled at Neuilly-sur-Seine on the edge of Paris. Early paintings were inspired by Cezanne and Fauvism, and he briefly became involved with the Cubist movement, producing works including Nude Descending a Staircase, No.2 (1912).

Together with the artist Francis Picabia, Duchamp developed absurdist, satirical attitudes of a sort subsequently labelled Dada. In 1913, he made his first readymade, Bicycle Wheel — a bicycle wheel mounted on a kitchen stool.

In 1915, already a celebrated artist, he moved to New York where he became part of a tight-knit group of émigrés that included Man Ray and Picabia. After the furore surrounding Fountain, Duchamp proceeded to produce many more readymades, but it was in 1923 that his masterwork, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even was presented. Its meaning is still hotly debated, but it has become widely interpreted as an allegory of virtual desire in the machine age.

In 1926, Duchamp officially gave up art to play tournament chess, although he continued to publish books on his art, and made art in secret. In 1941, he produced Box in a Valise, a collection of miniature facsimiles of his works contained within a leather suitcase, which he described as ‘a portable museum’. He spent much of the rest of his life working on six further editions of 300 boxes, each slightly different from the other.

By the time of his death in 1968, Duchamp was considered the father of conceptual art. The minimalist composer John Cage said, ‘I can’t get along without Duchamp. I literally believe Duchamp made it possible for us to live as we do.’

In 2009, Duchamp’s readymade Belle Haleine, Eau de Voilette (1921) sold for €8,913,000 at Christie’s Paris, establishing a world auction record for the artist.

MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)

Prière de toucher

MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)

Belle haleine - Eau de voilette

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

de ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (La Boîte-en-valise) [Series A] Untitled

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

Chessboard (Echiquier)

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

Monte Carlo Bond (No. 30)

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

De ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (La Boîte-en-valise), Series A Untitled

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

3 Standard Stoppages

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

Monte Carlo Bond (No. 1)

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

Feuille de vigne femelle

MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)

Feuille de vigne femelle

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

De ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (La boîte en valise), series F (Bonk 6D, Schwarz 484)

MARCEL DUCHAMP

L.H.O.O.Q.

馬賽尔∙杜尚(1887 - 1968)

《L.H.O.O.Q(带胡须的蒙娜丽莎)》

MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)

De ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (La boîte en valise, series F)

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1969)

De ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (La Boîte-en-valise), série F

MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)

De ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (La Boîte-en-valise), série E

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

De ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (La Boîte-en-valise)

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

Disk Inscribed with Pun

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

Prière de toucher

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

Disk Inscribed with Pun

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1969)

De ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (La Boîte-en-valise), série F

MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)

De ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (La Boîte), Series C

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

Pendu Femelle (Female Hanged Body)

Marcel Duchamp (1875-1963)

de ou Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (La boîte), Paris, 1958 (Schwarz 484)

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

De ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (La Boîte-en-valise), série B

MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)

9 moules mâlic, étude

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1969)

De ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (La Boîte-en-valise), série F

MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)

French Military Paper

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

9 moules mâlic, étude

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

Portrait de Madame Marthe Hervieu

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

De ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (La Boîte-en-valise), series G

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

Etude pour la Boîte-en-valise de Henri-Pierre Roché

MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)

de ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (La Boîte-en-Valise, Series D) (Schwarz 484)

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

L.H.O.O.Q. Rasée

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2

MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)

de ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy (La Boîte en Valise, Series G) (Schwarz 484)

MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)

La Mariée (Bride)

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

Couverture-cigarette, 1935-36

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

Nine Malic Moulds

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

Couverture-Cigarette (Stripped-Down Cigarette Tobacco)

MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968), MIMI PARENT (1924-2005), and others

Couple de tabliers and Boîte alerte, Missives lascives

MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)

Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2

MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)

An Original Revolutionary Faucet: Mirrorical Return