Notes on Art


Marcel Duchamp, Etant Donnes, 1946-1966

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In 1969, one year after Duchamp’s death, the Philadelphia Museum of Art revealed the artist’s work. This shocked the art world because in 1923 Duchamp announced that he was giving up art for his true passion, chess. His followers were also surprised by the realism in this final constructed piece which contrasted sharply with his previous Dadaist works.

Duchamp had been working on the piece in secret from 1946 to 1966. It is visible through a pair of peepholes in a wooden that look onto a scene of a naked woman lying her back. The tableau is constructed of bricks, velvet, twigs, a female form made of parchment, glass, linoleum, an assortment of lights, a landscape composed of hand-painted and photographed elements and an electric motor housed in a cookie tin which rotates a perforated disc.

Duchamp left a carefully constructed instructed manual to accompany the piece.