Marcel Duchamp: An Innovative Groundbreaking Artist

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  • Topic: Marcel Duchamp, Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Pages : 5 (1751 words )
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  • Published : July 14, 2008
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Marcel Duchamp was an innovative groundbreaking artist who during his lifetime continually pushed the boundaries of the current art scene. Due to his pioneering in art, he had a definitive influence upon artistic styles to come. Duchamp is typically grouped in to the Dadaist or Surrealist movements, however his involvement in the art world is worth more than just being placed into a category. In particular, his work “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even” or “The Large Glass” shows just how much he can test the limits of art during his time.

Duchamp was receiving much notoriety, both good and bad after painting “Nude Descending a Staircase”. At this time, World War I was making Paris a rather uncomfortable home for him, so he decided it better to leave for New York. There, he met Man Ray, who inspired him and engaged him in the New York Dada scene. He began reading Max Stirner’s “The Ego and Its Own”. Duchamp regarded this book extremely highly and it clearly had a remarkable influence upon his style. He also became interested in Raymond Roussel’s novel “Impressions d’Afrique” which depicts strange plots, word play, surrealistic settings and characters, and odd machines. These new influences on his life had made Duchamp become frustrated with the art at the time. On a trip he went on with a few friends, he saw various mechanical objects and felt that they were so much more pleasing than art at the time. He began to drift away from optically pleasing art and focused purely on intellectually stimulating art.

Duchamp decided to avoid art for a little while, and got a job as a librarian. He used this as “a sort of excuse for not being obliged to show up socially” (Marcel Duchamp. Moure, Rizzoli. 1988). This enabled him to remove himself from society and remain within his own realm. He was intrigued with various theoretical writings, such as those by Henri Poincare. The culmination of his interests in physics and the surreal combined with his dislike of the current art scene would soon lead to his greatest undertaking. Duchamp made many studies and notations about how he wished “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even” to be executed. These notes, various studies, and a few objects were later placed on display entitled “The Green Box”. Duchamp’s writings describe The Large Glass as a hilarious depiction that shoes an erratic encounter with The Bride and her nine bachelors among a strange mechanical apparatus. His notes do not offer much explanation however. They describe objects that are not in the final piece, as though they were there. The sections of notes that do seem to apply to objects in the final piece are so littered with word play and jokes that it is difficult to make anything out. It seems clear that Duchamp is more interested in allowing viewers to work out a meaning than for him to simply give it away.

“The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even” is divided into two sections. The top half, referred to as The Bride’s Domain, and the bottom half, referred to as The Bachelor’s Apparatus. At first glance, it appears as though both panels are just a mix of incomprehensible brown shapes. Upon closer inspection, it can be seen that both panels are quite different. The upper panel, “The Bride’s Domain”, is mostly cold monochromatic shapes with dark shadows cast across them. The Bride herself is composed of various somewhat perplexing elements including a steam shovel-like device, a funnel, and few other strange projections. Because of all these at first unrecognizable grey- brown shapes, the three white rectilinear shapes suspended in what appears to be a cloud, stand out.

The Bachelor’s Apparatus appears to be slightly warmer in contrast to The Bride’s panel. The Bachelors themselves are headless, armless dressmakers models. They are tied to a series of cones by a web of thin lines. The cylinders range in tonal value and opacity, going from nearly opaque to nearly transparent. Below them is a...
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