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Definition: Duchamp, Marcel from Philip's Encyclopedia

French painter. A radical art theorist, his Nude Descending a Staircase outraged visitors to the Armory Show. He produced few paintings, concentrating on abolishing the concept of aesthetic beauty. He was a leading member of New York Dada, inventing the concept of the 'ready-made'. His Fountain consisted of nothing but a urinal. His main work, The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (1915-23), is a 'definitively unfinished' painting of metal collage elements on glass.


Summary Article: Duchamp, Marcel from Chambers Biographical Dictionary

1887-1968

US painter

Born in Blainville, France, he moved to Paris to join his two artistic brothers in 1904. Associated with several modern movements including Cubism and Futurism, he shocked his generation with such works as Coffee-Mill (1911) and Nude Descending a Staircase (1912, Philadelphia), and was one of the pioneers of Dadaism, the anti-art protest, which favoured the presentation of energy and change above classical aesthetic values and fulminated against mechanization. In 1914 he introduced the first "ready-made" by signing a bottle-rack and declaring it to be art. In 1915 he left Paris for New York City, where he worked for eight years on a ten-foot (3m) high composition in glass and metal, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, known as The Large Glass, in which many of the shapes were obtained by chance effects, such as dust blown on to the drawings. He described this in his Green Box notes (1933). He edited the US art magazine VVV (1942-44), and became a US citizen in 1955. He was the brother of Jacques Villon and half-brother of Raymond Duchamp-Villon.

  • Thomkins, Calvin The World of Marcel Duchamp (1966).
© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

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