Marcel Duchamp

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Duchamp, Marcel

(märsĕl` düshäN`), 1887–1968, French painter, brother of Raymond Duchamp-VillonDuchamp-Villon, Raymond
, 1876–1918, French sculptor; brother of the artists Marcel Duchamp and Jacques Villon. From the tradition of Rodin he turned to cubism in 1912. He began to assemble machinelike forms with more than a touch of fantasy.
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 and half-brother of Jacques VillonVillon, Jacques,
1875–1963, French painter, brother of Marcel Duchamp and Raymond Duchamp-Villon. Villon became an exponent of cubism in 1911 and is best known for his refinement of the cubist style.
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. Duchamp is noted for his cubist-futurist painting Nude Descending a Staircase, depicting continuous action with a series of overlapping figures; it was the cause of great controversy when exhibited in 1913 at the New York Armory ShowArmory Show,
international exhibition of modern art held in 1913 at the 69th-regiment armory in New York City. It was a sensational introduction of modern art into the United States. The estimated 1,600 works included paintings representing avant-garde movements in Europe.
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. Duchamp invented ready-mades—commonplace objects—e.g., the urinal entitled Fountain, which he exhibited as works of art. In 1915 he was a co-founder of a DadaDada
or Dadaism
, international nihilistic movement among European artists and writers that lasted from 1916 to 1922. Born of the widespread disillusionment engendered by World War I, it originated in Zürich with a 1916 party at the Cabaret Voltaire and the
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 group in New York. After 1920, Duchamp produced a series of elaborate nonfunctional machines. He emigrated to the United States in 1942. Many of his works, including the celebrated symbolic construction The Bride stripped bare by her Bachelors, even (1915–23), are at the Philadelphia Mus. of Art.


See M. Sanouillet and E. Peterson, ed., The Writings of Marcel Duchamp (1989); P. Cabanne, Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp (1978, repr. 1987) and C. Tomkins, The Afternoon Interviews (2013); catalog with study ed. by A. D'Harnoncourt and K. McShine (1973); biography by C. Tomkins (1996, repr. 2013); J. Masheck, Marcel Duchamp in Perspective (1973, repr. 2002); R. E. Kuenzli and F. M. Naumann, ed., Marcel Duchamp: Artist of the Century (1989); P. Hulten, ed., Marcel Duchamp: Work and Life (1993); J. Mink, Duchamp: 1887–1968: Art as Anti-Art (tr. 2000); H. Molderings, Duchamp and the Aesthetics of Chance (2010).

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Duchamp, Marcel

(1887–1968) artist; born in Blainville, France (brother of Raymond Duchamp-Villon and half brother of Jacques Villon). He became famous by exhibiting Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (1912) at the New York Armory Show (1913), and by being a founder of the Société Anonyme, New York (1920), an organization promoting nonobjective art. An intermittent visitor to New York, he led the American Dada movement that tried to convey the absurdity of life. He was also among the first to use mobile works and found (junk) objects. His glass, wire, and painted foil construction, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (1915–23), was one of his last major works; he virtually abandoned art in his final decades and concentrated on playing chess. One of his most famous pieces was L.H.O.O.Q, a reproduction of Leonardo's Mona Lisa to which he added a moustache and goatee. He became a U.S. citizen in 1955.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.