Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp, born in Blainville-Crevon (Seine-Maritime), July 28, 1887 and died in Neuilly-sur-Seine on October 2, 1968, is a painter, plastic artist,

Since the 1960s, he has been regarded by many art historians and critics as the most important artist of the twentieth century. André Breton already described him as “the most intelligent man of the century”. Notably thanks to his invention of ready-mades, his work and his artistic attitude continue to exert a major influence on the different currents of contemporary art. He is seen as the precursor and the announcer of some of the most radical aspects of the evolution of art since 19 The protagonists of minimal art, conceptual art and body art, In their inspiration, their artistic and ideological approach, testify to the determining influence of Duchamp’s work. He was also, according to the numerous essays devoted to him, the inspirer of other artistic currents including pop art, neodadaism, op art and cinétisme.

Born in Seine-Maritime, Henri Robert Marcel Duchamp is the son of the notary of Blainville-Crevon, Justin Isidore Duchamp (known as “Eugène”), and Marie Caroline Lucie, née Nicolle, accomplished musician. Marcel is the grandson of Émile Frédéric Nicolle (1830-1894), a maritime broker and artist, who taught art to his grandchildren. He is the third child of a family of seven, including the sculptor Raymond Duchamp-Villon (1876-1918), and the painters Jacques Villon (Gaston Duchamp, 1875-1963) and Suzanne Duchamp (1889-1963), married To the painter Jean-Joseph Crotti.

He began his apprenticeship in painting with his artistic grandfather, then his brothers, his sister and their friends. Her godmother, Julia Pillore, daughter-in-law of her grandfather Émile, had married in 1900 the painter Paulin Bertrand. That year, in the fourth grade, Marcel won a mathematics prize and performed his first known drawing, Magdeleine on the piano. In the summer of 1902, he began his first paintings inspired by the landscapes of Blainville and only swears By Monet. In the evening, he learns to play chess by watching his two brothers, particularly gifted.

He brilliantly pursued his studies at the Bossuet school in Rouen, obtaining at the age of fifteen the first part of his baccalauréat with a 1st drawing prize. During the summer, he went on a trip to Jersey. The following year, he received the second part of the Bac (Lettres-Philosophie) and the medal of excellence of the “Friends of the Arts”.

In October 1904, with the agreement of his father, he moved to Montmartre, 71 rue Caulaincourt; He lives with his brother, who became the painter Jacques Villon. He enrolls at Julian Academy, and will only hold a year, dropping out because of theoretical courses. He keeps drawing, playing billiards and watching humorous cabaret numbers.

Since he never studied art in the classical sense of the term, Marcel Duchamp is a sort of self-taught artist.

After failing at the entrance examination of the Beaux-Arts in Paris, Marcel was called to perform his military service on October 30, 1905: his precise military booklet measuring 1.68 m, he had blond hair and Gray eyes As a worker of art, he sees his time reduced to a year instead of three: employed at a printer in Rouen, he obtained a few weeks earlier a diploma of printer of engravings, with the aim To reduce as much as possible his passage under the flags. In addition, his father retires, leaves Blainville for Rouen and takes the whole family to 71, rue Jeanne-d’Arc. Appointed corporal on April 11, 1906, Marcel was released on October 3 and moved to 65, rue Caulaincourt (Paris). His best pool partner is Juan Gris.

To round off the end of the month, Marcel, in imitation of Villon, tries to propose satirical cartoons to newspapers like Le Rire and Le Courrier français. After a few refusals4, eighteen drawings were published between November 1908 and October 191 He signed “Duchamp” and practiced a humor sometimes considered gaudriolesque For the first time, Marcel hesitated between two careers: humorist or painter. He offers his drawings at the Salon des Humoristes (Palais des Glaces, Paris) in May and June 1907, but without much success: it is his first contact with the public. Between Christmas 1907 and the beginning of the 1908 school year, Marcel led the great life: memorable festivals in rue Caulaincourt, exhibition of four new drawings at the 2nd Salon des artistes humoristes (May-June) and then a long holiday in Veules-les-Roses. He moved to Neuilly-sur-Seine and remained there until 1913.

He began to exhibit paintings at the Salon d’Automne (Grand Palais, October-November 1908), namely Portrait, Cherry Blossom, and Old Cemetery, very impressed by the Impressionists. In the spring of 1909, he exhibited at the Salon des Independants (Orangerie des Tuileries) two landscapes, one of which will be bought 100 francs: for Marcel, it is a first Again at Veules-les-Roses, And exhibits its landscapes at the Salon d’automne for the second time. A canvas is bought by Isadora Duncan. At the end of the year, he exhibited at the Norman Society of Modern Painting organized in Rouen by his childhood comrade, Pierre Dumont, who introduced Francis Picabia, who also exhibited. His two brothers, Jacques and Raymond, often invited him to join them in Puteaux at 7, rue Lemaître where they lived in a sort of community of artists where Cubists like Albert Gleizes, Fernand Léger, Jean Metzinger, Roger de La Fresnaye, but also poets such as Guillaume Apollinaire (who does not like his nudes), Henri-Martin Barzun, Maurice Princet and the young Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes.

After the years 1902-1910, which Duchamp described as “eight years of swimming lessons,” 9 during which he explored a whole series of artistic styles – Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism – began a period of intense research.

Between 1910 and 1912, Duchamp’s way of expressing himself evolved considerably, and went through different phases. It is at first very marked by Cézanne, as evidenced by his painting The Chess Party, but also by Fauvism with, for example, The Portrait of Doctor Dumouchel, while refusing to stick to the model. A certain Jeanne Marguerite Chastagnier poses for him and Duchamp performs nude studies, then ties a romantic relationship with her. During this period, he also becomes a member of the Salon d’Automne and no longer goes through the Selection Board (but ironically he will not exhibit any more). In 1911, he realized the fusion between symbolism and cubism, undertaking pictorial research on movement, very marked by the work of Kupka, his neighbor of Puteaux, and in the wake he executed for his brothers Moulin à café, his First representation of machine and wheels.

At the beginning of 1911 he painted a painting entitled Le Printemps (or Young Man and Young Girl in Spring): in retrospect, Arturo Schwarz sees in it “Duchamp’s first work which is truly personal to him. In this work in particular, the figure of the androgynous will become a highly symbolic theme for its future great achievements.11

From 1911 to 1912, Duchamp elaborated enigmatic drawings (series of King and queen crossed by nudes in speed, Chess Players) and minutely worked old-fashioned paintings (the two Nude descending a staircase, Chess players, The King and Queen surrounded by naked quickly, Passage of the virgin to the bride, Bride). He then composed a hermetic iconography, disconcerting of complexity, coming under a form of arcimboldesque mannerism. It has been argued that the paintings of this period, which are so problematic in interpretation, and which clearly stand out from Cubism or Fauvism then in vogue, would be the product of a persistent interest, and certainly paradoxical for an artist, Apostle of the anti-art, for certain masters of the past (Bosch, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Leonardo, Bellange, Hogarth, Goya) or anonymous of the French Renaissance, and especially for Velasquez. The “figures” of the compositions of this period, drawn from the repertory of ancient painting, become an intertwined arrangement of various objects, a process that will find its culmination in Le Grand Verre (1915-1923) – La Mariée uncovered by its bachelors , Even the original name of this work – which could then be read as the mechanistic version of the Ménines de Velázquez

In addition to this incisive gaze on early painting, Duchamp claimed his great interest in authors such as Jules Laforgue, Villiers de l’Isle-Adam and Alfred Jarry, who also nurtured the productions of this period. It was from that time, in November 1911, that the date was Young Sad in a train: he was already experiencing the effects of chronophotography. It was a poem by Laforgue that inspired him to compose a composition, the Nude descending a staircase, which he also began at the end of 1911, and the second version of which was proposed at the Salon des Independants on 20 March 19. Friends of the jury: Duchamp is deeply wounded. He later said: “I recognize that the incident of the Nude descending a staircase to the Independents has determined in me, without even realizing it, a complete revision of my values”

At the end of June 1912 he embarked on a journey to Munich, where he met his friend the German painter Max Bergmann (1884-1955), whom he donated in autumn. This journey puts Duchamp in contact with the Munich avant-garde, visits museums and temporary exhibitions, is photographed by Heinrich Hoffmann and buys Über das Geistige in der Kunst (The Spiritual in Art) Signed Vassily Kandinsky It then passes through Basel, Dresden and Berlin. This new intellectual, artistic and scientific context undoubtedly leads him to conceive the plan of the Grand Verre

He is present at the side of the group of the Golden Section in October 1912 in Paris, for an exhibition at the gallery La Boétie. This year, he is the capital of Gaston de Pawlowski, director of Le Vélo magazine, but also Impressions d’Afrique, by Raymond Roussel and Jean-Pierre Brisset’s etymologico-fantasist calembours , The authors to whom the artist owes much by this period of transition: besides the influence of the mathematician Maurice Princet, who frequented the cubists of the Puteaux group, Duchamp later recognized his debt to these singular thinkers, who allowed him To interpret in his own way certain theoretical aspects of non-Euclidean geometry, although he declares himself not to be scientifically competent

In October 1912 Walter Pach brought Duchamp and the other members of the Puteaux Group together with Walt Kuhn and Arthur Bowen Davies, director and president of the American Association of Painters and Sculptors respectively, who were preparing a huge exhibition to make the link between The modernists of the end of the nineteenth century, American painting and the European avant-garde.

From February to May 1913, in the United States, new European research was presented at the International Exhibition of Modern Art: the Armory Show in New York, then at the Art Institute of Chicago and finally at Boston at the Copley Society. During the first two exhibitions, the Nude descending a staircase No. 2 causes hilarity and scandal in some newspapers. This work is influenced, like Futurism, by chronophotography. Duchamp also presents King and Queen surrounded by nudes, Chess player and a nude sketch: he sells the first three works The Armory Show closes its doors on March 15: two days later, Alfred Stieglitz invites Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia To exhibit in his gallery called “291”: in comparison, this event remained confidential.

In 1913, he began working at the Sainte-Geneviève Library in the Latin Quarter, enabling him to have access to new documentation, but also “to free himself from all material obligations”. Duchamp adds: “I started a career as a librarian who was a sort of social excuse. It was really a decision, from this point of view, very clear. I did not try to make paintings nor to sell them, I had besides a work in front of me that asked me several years, The bride exposed by her bachelors even “In order to perfect herself, he follows as a free listener The courses of the School of the charters since November 1912, where he follows particularly the courses of bibliography of Charles Mortet. The latter is one of the two conservatives who support him (with Maurice Davanne, Francis Picabia’s uncle) and allow him to be officially hired during the two months of absence of Charles Kohler, then ill (November-December 1913). Duchamp then returned to work as a volunteer (supernumerary) from January 1914 to May 1915

He deviated from painting, around 1913-15, with the first ready-mades, 20 “ready-made” objects he chose for their aesthetic neutrality: Bicycle Wheel (1913), Bottle Holder (1914), Fontaine 1917), an overturned urinal on which it affixed the signature “R. Mutt”. This object is rejected by the organizers of the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists of New York. He has taken an ordinary article out of the most prosaic life, and has placed it in such a way that its usual meaning disappears under the new title and the new point of view.

Reformed in 1914, he left for New York in the spring of 1915 and maintained links with Man Ray, Arthur Cravan, Alfred Stieglitz and Francis Picabia with whom he founded the magazine 391

It had a not insignificant impact on the Dadaist movement, which can be linked to La Mariée exposed by its bachelors, even (1912-1923). Indeed, it should not be forgotten that, if Duchamp began the research of the Grand Glass in 1912, he did not realize it until 1915, hence the dates stated above.

He collaborated with the magazine Le Surrealisme in the Service of the Revolution (1930-1933), launched by André Breton and published by José Corti.

In January 1938 he co-organized the International Exhibition of Surrealism at the Galerie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, with one ephemeral sculpture of 1,200 bags of coal suspended from the ceiling.

Duchamp was preoccupied with the time, speed and decomposition of movements. In 1925-1926, he was able to experiment with a new form of cinematic expression, the “Optical cinema”, with his unique film entitled Anémic Cinéma. His film presents rotating plates which later became, in 1935, the “rotoreliefs” (or “optical machines”). Offered in the form of turntables on an axis thanks to a motor, they combine optical games, word games, and geometry.

While working on the sketches of the Nude descending the staircase (1911-1912), he discovered the protocinematographic experiments of Étienne-Jules Marey, among others. His Bicycle Wheel (1913) can also be part of the beginnings of his work on the poetico-sculptural movement, this ready-made is considered to be at the origin of kinetic art. The next phase has a relationship between electric motors, transparent discs or geometric patterns (1920-1923), an invention for which Jacques Doucet is seeking help, culminating with the “rotoreliefs”, whose patent he will file 19 The first “optical machine” was engraved on a red disk and reproduced as an insert in the journal 391, no. 18, in July 19

In 1926, he made an experimental short film entitled Anémic Cinéma (35 mm, black and white, 7 min22), lasting 7 minutes, and signed Rrose Sélavy, with the complicity of Man Ray and director Marc Allégret. Moving discs are filmed, on which are sometimes written phrases – such as “The sucking child is a hot flesh blower and does not like cauliflower” – where the absurd, ‘Black humor and alliteration are in order. The film was screened in August 1926, in private session.

On the other hand, it is not entirely certain that one day we find the short film23 which he realized with Man Ray, Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven shaving her pubic hair Interprets the sculptor Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. This film was filmed in New York in 1921 and screened in the circle of friends of the patron Walter Arensberg. The negatives would have been destroyed

In addition, Duchamp maintains a complicit relationship with the cinematograph. In 1918, he appeared as appearing in Lafayette, We Come! By Léonce Perret In 1924, he participated in the shooting of Entr’acte, by René Clair: in this short experimental and comic film, Duchamp appeared as a chess player in front of Man Ray. In 1944, he was the “artist” in the experimental film of Maya Deren, Witch’s Cradle. In 1947 he took part in the artistic direction of Hans Richter’s Dreams That Money Can Buy for an episode on a music by John Cage.

Oil on canvas in panorama format, Tu m ‘, executed in 1918, is the first work of Duchamp to integrate objects in his painting. One finds there a brush and a real fissure in the canvas of the painting which joins a second, painted that one. The painting was designed to enter the space above the library of Katherine Dreier, her patron of the time. Painted shortly before the departure of Duchamp for Buenos Aires, it is seen as “the last painting of Marcel Duchamp”, or rather as a abandonment by the artist of the oil on canvas

The Bare Married by His Bachelors, even, called Le Grand Verre, realized in the United States, embedded between two glass panels mounted on frame and tripods (1915-1923, Philadelphia Museum), is the culmination of several studies Preliminary, consisting of notes, sketches, “paintings”, dating back to the early 1910s, such as the 1914 Box or Neuf Mussels (1913-1914). In the artist’s work, this research (or questioning) corresponds to the obsession with an invisible “real form”, obtained through contact and transparency, in order to synthesize all his theories, especially art as a “mental fact”. This study, considered by the artist as incomplete, was made of oil, sheet and lead, but was broken during its transport in 1916, but Marcel Duchamp refused to have it restored The art critics who discovered this work there Saw the broken pieces and considered them an integral part of the work until 1959

In the last years of his life, Duchamp executed a work for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Given: 1) The waterfall 2) the lighting gas … (1946-1966), erotic sculptural environment, prohibited by the The will of the artist, before the public in 1969 (one year after his death).

Marcel Duchamp is the father of a natural child, Yvonne, born on February 6, 1911, of Marguerite Chastagnier, his model. The artist did not discover the existence of this child until 1922 and met it several times between 1966 and 1968

In 1924, Duchamp began an affair with Mary Reynolds, born Hubachek (1891-1950), who practiced as a bookbinder. This liaison lasted more than twenty years

On June 8, 1927, Duchamp married Lydie Sarazin-Levassor (1903-1988). They divorce six months later, on January 25, 19 The rumor is rumored that Duchamp is a marriage of convenience: Lydie Sarazin-Levassor is the granddaughter of a (formerly) wealthy automaker, Emile Levassor. The father is delighted that a fast arranged marriage of his daughter facilitates his situation. At the beginning of January 1928, Duchamp told his wife that he could no longer bear the duties of marriage and his imprisonment. Less than three weeks later, they divorced, 44 Shortly after his divorce, Duchamp publicly appeared with Mary Reynolds.

Between 1940 and 1944, he was in New York, in his studio in Greenwich Village, living with Mary, surrounded by French intellectuals in exile, including André Breton and Robert Lebel, with whom he remained very close. In 1942, according to Serge Bramly, Duchamp finds himself stuck in a transit camp in Casablanca, waiting for his boat for the United States

In 1946, he gave his Parisian studio located at 11, rue Larrey47 and which he had occupied since 1927, to Isabelle Waldberg.

Between 1947 and 1951, he maintained a liaison with the Brazilian sculptor Maria Martins (pt).

In 1954, he married Alexina, known as Teeny, the first wife of Pierre Matisse, the famous art dealer of the Fuller Building in New York and son of the painter Henri Matisse.

On Saturday, May 15, 1965, Duchamp organized a “Rousse Sélavy dinner” at the Victoria restaurant in Paris, surrounded by about thirty guests, including Carl Reuterswärd, Jacques Fraenkel, Gabriele Buffet-Picabia, PR de Zayas and Marie-Claire Dumas, all members of the Association for the Study of the Dada Movement. During dinner, he deposited the ashes of a cigar in a container and, at the end, those of the report attesting to the contents of the said receptacle, called L’Urne, which was a sealed and signed seal .

On June 5, 1968, he was interviewed at length by Joan Bakewell for the television channel BBC

On October 2, 1968, Marcel Duchamp died at the age of 81 in Neuilly-sur-Seine (Hauts-de-Seine).

Marcel Duchamp revolutionized the academic conception of art, which until then had judged the value of a work only in terms of the efforts and the work given for an edifying purpose. The heterogeneity of his means of expression and the complexity of his works, painting (Nude descending a staircase in 1912), to the most hermetic plastic installation (Given …, unfinished in 1966) By the diversion of objects “made-up” (a urinal, a dryer-bottle, a comb …) decreed works of art by its sole will and associated with its constant claim to the “right to laziness” To classify it in any of the twentieth-century artistic movements. Duchamp crossed cubism, futurism, dada and surrealism by excluding himself from all current

Through his works, Duchamp leads a reflection on the notion of Art, on aesthetics, thus preparing what conceptual art is. Pop art, fluxus and the happening also made frequent borrowings from the practices and artistic approaches of Duchamp. The writings of Marcel Duchamp were published under the titles Duchamp of the sign (1958) and Marchand of the salt (1958). He was also the creator of a fictional character, Rrose Sélavy, sculptor and author of aphorisms handling false counterpoised and alliteration.