The French Dada artist Marcel Duchamp was a member of artist Florine Stettheimer’s family’s inner circle. He is depicted here in the company of Rrose Selavy, the female alter ego that he invented in 1920. He casually carries out his game of sexual transformation by means of a contraption operated from an armchair. The clock and the chess knight are both Ducahmpian symbols: the one being a reference to the circularity of Dada time; the other an illusions to Duchamp’s prowess at chess. The frame (also by Stettheimer), composed of Duchamp’s monogram in a circle of infinite repetition, wryly comments on his program of artistic self-promotion and his obsession with identity and its ambiguities.
Portrait of Marcel Duchamp and Rrose Selavy (1923) was Photographed in the Jewish Museum in Manhattan.
Why Not Sneeze, Rose Sélavy? is a 1921Readymade sculpture by Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp considered this to be an “Assisted Readymade” because the original object, the Birdcage, was altered by the artist with the addition of the other objects. These consist of 152 white cubes (made of marble but resembling sugar cubes), a mercury thermometer, a piece of cuttlebone, and a tiny porcelain dish.
The birdcage is made of painted metal and contains several wooden perches. Rrose Sélavy, or Rose Sélavy, was one of the pseudonyms used by artist for the creation of other works, such as This One.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art displays the original as part of the Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection. Several replicas made by Duchamp exist (this is one, from 1964, of those) but only in the original are the cubes stamped “Made in France.”
Man Ray (1890 – 1976) worked in a wide variety of media, including photography, painting, and sculpture, often blurring the boundaries between these practices. Obstruction, an assemblage of 63 wooden coat hangers, is an example of the type of artwork Dada artist Marcel Duchamp called a Ready-Made, a term that suggests Man Ray’s appropriation and manipulation of pre-existing, common objects. The sculpture playfully mimics a chandelier, but, as the hangers seemingly divide and multiply, Obstruction quickly evolves into a dense tangle of overlapping forms. Cast shadows serve as distorted, immaterial extensions of its physical presence. Man Ray first created Obstruction in 1920, but the present work belongs to an addition of 15 reproductions that he created in 1961 for an important exhibition of kinetic art.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Inscribed on a strip of metal glued across the approximate center of this work are the words of its title, suggesting that viewers look through the lens that Duchamp mounted between two panes of glass and haloed in concentric circles. The title of this work, which Duchamp said he “intended to sound like an oculist’s prescription,” tells the viewer exactly how to look at it. But peering through the convex lens embedded in the work’s glass “for almost an hour” would have a hallucinatory effect, the view being dwarfed, flipped, and otherwise distorted.
Meanwhile, the viewer who is patiently following the title’s instruction is put on display for anyone else walking by. Duchamp called To Be Looked At . . . his “small glass,” to distinguish it from his famous Large Glass of 1915–23. He made this work while living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he had fled earlier in 1918 to escape the oppressive atmosphere of the United States during World War I. When he shipped it back to New York, the glass cracked in transit, an effect that delighted the artist.
In the tradition of Marcel Duchamp’s Ready-Mades, this 3D printed Pez dispenser by British artist Tom Burtonwood (in the likeness of Duchamp’s Fountain sculpture) combines high and low, pop and populous, and art and kitsch.
Available in the gift shop at the New Museum of Contemporary Art for $70, discounted to $59.50 for Members!
This Sculpture / Installation, Untitled (Night Train) (1989) by African-American artist David Hammons had just been re-rotated into display from the permanent collection at MOMA when I visited earlier this month, and I think it’s really terrific.
David Hammons has risen to prominence while at the same time consciously ducking the attention of critics, galleries and museums, preferring to “do things in the street.” A recipient of both a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award and a Pric de Rome, Hammons places himself as an artist between Arte Povera and Marcel Duchamp. He makes his art from refuse and the detritus of African-American life: chicken wings, Thunderbird and Night Train bottles, clippings from dreadlocks, basketball hoops, etc. Hammons‘ deeply felt political views on race and cultural stereotypes give his witty and elegant sculptures, installations, and body prints an integrity that promises to keep the focus on his art rather than on his career.
James Cohan Gallery is currently hosting a diverse a group exhibition entitled By Proxy, which Geoffrey and I stumbled upon during our most recent art crawl.
Oliver Laric, Yuanmingyuan Columns
The exhibit title, By Proxy, referes to what Marcel Duchamp called “aesthetic osmosis” — the process by which an artist transfers responsibility to a viewer, empowering them to complete the work out in the world. This idea, of art as shared enterprise, is the theme of this exhibition. Here, the word proxy encompasses the tools and techniques that complete artworks away from the artist’s hand. This exhibition is concerned with those tools and techniques, the effects they can have, and the instances when an idea calls for more than just the artist to take form.
Xu Zhen, Eternity – Aphrodite of Knidos
By Proxy includes Duchamp’s assisted readymade With Hidden Noise, a ball of string with an unknown object rattling inside it; embroidery works by Alighiero Boetti; three drawings from John Cage’s 1990 series River Rocks and Smoke, in which chance operations are performed by smoke settling in the fibers of the paper; Oliver Laric’s Yuanmingyuan Columns, a new work created with 3D scans of Chinese cultural artifacts ensconced in Bergen, Norway; Yoko Ono’s seminal chess set and war allegory Play it By Trust; and a work from Xu Zhen’s recent Eternity series, which juxtaposes the East and West by mounting headless replicas of key Hellenistic and Buddhist sculptures neck to neck.
Play It By Trust, Chess Board Detail (above) and Sign (below), which appears on the backs of each chair.
Xu Zhen, Under Heaven
Detail from Above Painting
The exhibition incorporates work from the past century to the present day. Participating artists are Francis Alÿs, Alighiero Boetti, John Cage, Marcel Duchamp, Wade Guyton, Oliver Laric, Lee Mingwei, Sol LeWitt, Yoko Ono, Jon Rafman, Mariah Robertson, Siebren Versteeg and Xu Zhen. Definitely worth checking out.