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Marcel Duchamp
France 1887−1968
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Marcel Duchamp (FR. Marcel Duchamp 28 July 1887; Blainville-Crevon, France — October 2, 1968, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France) is a French-American artist, one of the brightest representatives of Dadaism and surrealism. Duchamp was the first Dadaists in the United States and has long lived in two countries. It is in the States he created his first ready-made. He was an enthusiastic chess player and repeatedly completely stopped making art to devote himself to chess. Despite the fact that his works can be counted on one hand, Duchamp is considered one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century.

Features of the artist Marcel Duchamp: in the early years, he studied traditional painting, however, in modern styles. Duchamp was primarily interested in Fauvism and cubism. However, shortly after moving to the U.S. he presented a work that changed the course of art history — a porcelain urinal signed with the name of a nonexistent person. Ready-mades Duchamp (ready-made objects that are moved by the will of the artist from the world of ordinary things in the world of artistic images) were often subjected to minimum interference on his part, but mysteriously turned into works of art.

Famous works of Marcel Duchamp: "The fountain", "Nude descending a staircase", "The bride stripped their bachelors (the Large glass)", "L. H. O. O. Q".

Greatest love Marcel Duchamp was not art. It was chess. He was able for many years to abandon creative work, spending all his free time at the chess Board, and then suddenly appeared with another shocking work of art. Giving the audience the desired effect, Duchamp with peace of mind again hiding in the shadows. Mathematical mind and amazing luck allowed the artist to make a rare but fine tuned to be at the hearing and to live happily. Duchamp very few have earned with your own works, for the most part living by generous patrons. He would spend a dozen years creating a single art-object. He avoided contact with the press and not chasing cheap popularity. His whole life was like one big game of chess, which he held with brilliance and, of course, won.

Family tradition

Marcel Duchamp was not too much of a chance to go in your life some other way. His maternal grandfather was a painter and printmaker, many of which were surrounded by Marseille’s literally from birth. The boy’s mother was an artist-lover depicting mostly rural landscapes. Senior Duchamp brothers, Jacques and Raymond, and sister Suzanne also chose a creative path and Marcel had no choice but to follow the family tradition. Interestingly, at an early age the boy in addition to art showed a remarkable mathematical talent, he even won several prizes in both fields. However, Marcel did his first unexpected move, decided nothing to choose. He continued to paint, and a mathematical genius transformed into a love of chess.

The first teacher of painting was trying to protect Marcel and all his players from the "corrupting influence" of impressionism, post-impressionism and other avant-garde movements in painting. However, a Typical miraculously managed to miss these teachings on deaf ears. In fact, his real teacher was his brother Jacques Villon, who himself was in search of individual style and supported this desire of Marseille. At the age of 14 years, Duchamp creates a lot of drawings, watercolors and impressionistic oil paintings of landscapes and portraits of his sister Susanna.

In the early 1900s Marcel followed older brothers went to Paris. But in the famous académie Julian he studied for only one year. Said Duchamp a lot more time spent at playing pool than studying. Then he begins to earn a living as a cartoonist. Most of his former works was built not only on the visual jokes, but the play on words. This technique Duchamp will use in the future, when will begin to create ready-mades.

Paris of the early twentieth century was for Duchamp the perfect place. The artistic life here is not for a moment froze in place, she almost every day gave birth to something new. A new generation of artists constantly tested the boundaries of art, transforming it into new forms. Here Marcel became acquainted with the Cubists and Dadaists future, started a friendship with the poet and art critic Guillaume Apollinaire (who brutally defeated early works by Duchamp, calling them "ugly naked") and avant-garde artist Francis Picabia.


A real artistic breakthrough of Marcel Duchamp and at the same time the culmination of his career as a painter was highly controversial painting "Nude descending a staircase" (1912). It turned out that the picture may be too avant-garde for even the Cubists. Duchamp was going for the first time to present the cubist painting at the Salon of Independent in 1912. However, the organizers of the Salon asked the older brothers of the artist to convince him, either rename the picture, or just remove it from the exhibition. Learning of this, Duchamp did "Nude" from the wall and took a taxi home. Since then, he will ask the public two main issues (including through its contractors): what is acceptable in art and who has the right to decide this? Then, according to him, he decided not to join any of the art movements.

With the beginning of the First world war, a Typical was getting the uncomfortable feeling in Paris, and he drew his eyes across the ocean. Several of his works at that time had already been purchased by collectors from the USA, and in 1915 when the artist arrived in new York, he was surprised to find that quite famous in the States. But the real success came on him in 1917, when the world saw its first ready-made. Ceramic urinal, inverted unusual angle, called "Fountain" and signed with the pseudonym R. Mutt, was the subject of many disputes, harsh criticism and speculation. However, a Typical managed to prove that absolutely any object can be inscribed in the history of art, it is not necessary to meet any special canons to display the vision of the artist and affect the viewer. Now the "Fountain" considered one of the most influential works of art in the world.

After the war, Duchamp all subsequent years will periodically live in new York, then in Paris. According to one legend, during the Second world war he even pretended to be a cheesemonger, in order to take out materials from occupied France, and never aroused suspicion.

Marcel Duchamp never wanted to be known to the public and art critics. He could afford for several years to disappear altogether from the art scene and devote all free time to play chess. And sometimes he would for many years to carefully work on one piece. A monumental work with the intricate name "the Bride stripped their bachelors, one in two persons (the Large glass)" Duchamp created from 1915 to 1923. Among other things, it included a three-dimensional reproductions of early paintings of the artist "The bride"(1912) and "Mill for chocolate"(1914), recorded between two huge pieces of glass. After the first exhibition during shipping one of the glasses was cracked, but Duchamp did not replace it, making the cracked part of the artwork.

The last 25 years of his life Duchamp spent away from the art world. At least he managed all believe. In fact, between 1946 and 1966, the years he was secretly working on another large-scale work, which, according to his will, shown to the public only after the artist’s death. A piece called "This" is represented in the Philadelphia Museum of art, it never left and will never leave its walls. The fact that "This" is a heavy door embedded in the wall, behind which hides a diorama of a naked woman lying on the grass, kerosene lamp and waterfall (1, 2). To see the work can only one viewer at a time, but he’ll have to put yourself in the very uncomfortable position of voyeur, peeping through the keyhole. It is logical that during the life of Duchamp did not comment on this secret work. We can say that it was his last joke, the last riddle, the exact answer to which will never be found.

Double play

Personal life of Marcel Duchamp has always been a mystery. He actually rarely talked to journalists, and even when it was down to the interview, I could endlessly talk about art and chess, but categorically refused to speak about himself personally. For a long time was only known that the artist was married twice. But one day his first wife was Lydia Sarazen Levassor produced a memoir, in which he told all the details of their short marriage.

When they met, Lydia’s just turned 24, and Marseille was soon to hit 40. They staged a close friend of Duchamp, Francis Picabia and his then girlfriend, a pretty influential figure in the Dadaist movement, Germaine Everling. Lydia, is very far from the world of art, intrigued by the fact that a middle-aged man who wants to settle down and start a family, cannot find a wife on their own and enlists the help of friends.

It was a whirlwind romance. Lydia and Marcel met in March, 1927, and in early June got married. Shortly after the wedding, Duchamp rented an apartment that was supposed was supposed to be their family nest, but the very next day after moving was that the artist was configured on the guest marriage. He preferred to spend time in my Studio and playing chess with friends, only occasionally visiting his wife. He proceeded to tell Lydia that the family bond is a fiction, and "a relic of the middle Ages." Romantic love, according to him, also did not exist, and sex had no more importance than a dinner for two. Duchamp stated that he would not mind if she got herself a lover, because "a little experience she could do". This strange marriage lasted only six months. And even then, evil tongues claimed that Marcel married Lydia by pure calculation, because she was the daughter of a major automotive tycoon.

By the way, there is a legend that Lydia is so jealous of the artist to the game of chess that was once glued all his chess pieces to the Board.

Duchamp’s second wife, alexina (Teeny) Sattler, memoirs wrote, therefore, about their life together is practically nothing known. Her first husband was an art dealer Pierre Matisse, the youngest son of the artist Henri Matisse. With alexina Duchamp met in new York, they were married in January 1954 and were together until his death. Together the couple shuttled between new York and Paris, sometimes spending the summer in Spain. And besides the love of art unites them more and passion for chess.

Author: Eugene Sidelnikov
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Artworks by the artist
total 60 artworks
Marcel Duchamp. The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even
The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even
1923, 277.5×177.8 cm
Marcel Duchamp. Nude going down the stairs
Nude going down the stairs
1912, 147×89.2 cm
Marcel Duchamp. Fountain
1950, 30.5×38.1 cm
Marcel Duchamp. Portrait of Yvonne Duchamp
Portrait of Yvonne Duchamp
1901, 31×23 cm
Marcel Duchamp. The ninth form of debauchery
The ninth form of debauchery
1915, 64×102 cm
Marcel Duchamp. Nude in black stockings
Nude in black stockings
1910, 32×23 cm
Marcel Duchamp. L.H.O.O.Q.
1919, 19.7×12.4 cm
Marcel Duchamp. Bride undressed by her bachelors (back side)
Bride undressed by her bachelors (back side)
1923, 277.5×177.8 cm
Marcel Duchamp. A game
A game
View 61 artworks by the artist