Marcel Duchamp
04.30.08 | No Comments

The Large Glass at the Philadelphia Museum of Art,
photo by Seze

While studying art at Bard College in upstate NY in 1996, I made a trip to Philadelphia just to see the Marcel Duchamp room at The Philadelphia Museum of Art. He was that important to me, and he still is. I made my second trip to the Duchamp room yesterday, 12 years had past and I was still just as thrilled to see his work again. But the real treat was to see his haunting installation Étant donnés that is only visible trough a peep hole.

Étant donnés interior view
From Wikipedia:

Étant donnés is Marcel Duchamp‘s last major art work which surprised the art world that believed he’d given up art for chess 25 years earlier. It is a tableau, visible only through a peep hole in a wooden door, of a nude woman lying on her back with her face hidden and legs spread holding a gas lamp in the air in one hand against a landscape backdrop.

Duchamp worked secretly on the piece from 1946 to 1966 in his Greenwich Village studio while even his closest friends thought he had abandoned art.

It is made of an old wooden door, bricks, velvet, twigs, a female form made of leather, glass, linoleum, and an electric motor. Duchamp prepared a “Manual of Instructions” in a 4-ring binder explaining and illustrating how to assemble and disassemble the piece.

It wasn’t until 1969 that the Philadelphia Museum of Art revealed the tableau to the public.

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