Vol.1 / Issue3


Marcel Duchamp: Armory Show Lecture, 1963

recorded by Richard N. Miller



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Figure 24
Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Kneeling Woman (Femme á genoux), 1911
Figure 25
André Derain, Window on the Park (La Fênetre sur le parc), 1912

               Lehmbruck.  Wilhelm Lehmbruck has been called the leading Expressionist sculptor.  In this Kneeling Woman (Fig. 24) of 1910, he is simply turning away, turning his back on the pure forms of Maillol, whose influence had marked his earlier years.  The plaster cast of this sculpture was in the original show in 1913 and belongs now to the Albright Gallery in Buffalo.  But it is too fragile, really, to travel.  You can only see it this way.

               Derain.  One of the original “wild beasts,” the Fauves, with Matisse and Braque.  Derain turned, after 1907, to a more constructive technique.  Almost a Cubist, without accepting to be a Cubist.  He was very stubborn, too.  And his still life, Window on the Park (Fig. 25), 1912 belongs to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, was in the original Show, and is also in the present show.

               Pablo Picasso.  This portrait of Madame Soler  is a very early Picasso, dated 1903.  It belongs to the blue period, probably painted in Barcelona, where he had returned after his first stay in Paris, 1901-1902.  One of the very first Cubist sculptures by Picasso, this Head of Fernande Olivier, 1909, is treated with the same facet-like technique as were the Cubist paintings of the same year.  Yes, it’s in the present show.  It’s upstairs.  Beautiful sculpture.  Now, we have another one, which is called Woman with a Mustard Pot (Fig. 26), you see the mustard pot on the left, and was painted in 1910, at the very beginning of Cubism, and bears a certain resemblance to the sculpture you just saw on the screen.  The museum of The Hague, Holland, agreed to lend this important painting to the show in New York in April.  They wouldn’t let it go for more than three weeks, I don’t know why.  The three Picassos you just saw were all in the original Show.

                Now, this is Brancusi.  Constantin Brancusi.  I cannot understand why this beautiful Muse (Fig. 27) and four other sculptures of Brancusi’s, created such a violent reaction in the Chicago show of 1913.  As a result, Brancusi was burned in effigy, along with Matisse and Walter Pach, in Chicago (laughter).  It’s true.  These are the mysteries of modern art.

                Braque.  Georges Braque, in 1908, Georges Braque abandoned his Fauvist palette and attacked a completely different problem, which was to become Cubism.  This still life,  Pitcher and Violins (Fig. 28), 1910, is typical of the first years of the Cubist discipline as it was practiced by Picasso and Braque at that time.  In fact, their technique was so closely similar that it was very difficult at times to distinguish the Cubist Braque from the Cubist Picasso. That I know, that was very difficult.

                Léger.  Fernand Léger.  I remember seeing this composition by Léger in the Cubist room of the Salon d’Automne in 1911.  Léger’s contribution to Cubism in 1910 and 1911 was this tubular style.  Instead of using cubes, he used tubes.  The art critics of the time called him a Tubist instead of a Cubist (laughter).  It’s true, it was in all the papers.  He was soon to develop a more colorful style.

                La Fresnaye.  La Fresnaye. Roger de la Fresnaye was wrongly called a Cubist.  In this Village of Meulon of 1912, he simply applies a geometric technique, a formal transcription of a very effective landscape.  This painting is now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the Arensburg collection, and probably was in the 1913 Show.  Probably.  When I first came to New York in 1915, it was hanging in the Arensburgs’ dining room.  They probably bought it at the Show, that’s why.

click images to enlarge
Figure 26
Figure 27
Figure 28
Pablo Picasso, Woman with Mustard Pot (La Femme au pot de moutarde), 1910
Constantin Brancusi, The Muse (La Muse), 1912, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Georges Braque, Violin and Pitcher, 1910

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Figure 29
Francis Picabia, Procession in Seville, 1912

                Voila. It is Picabia.  I also remember being in the studio with Picabia in Paris when he was making this Cubist picture, Procession in Seville (Fig. 29) in 1912.  His main preoccupation at that time was to advocate abstraction, and he must be counted with Kandinsky, Kupka, and Mondrian as one of the pioneers of non-figurative art.  This painting was in the Armory Show and is also included in the anniversary show.

               That’s my brother.  Duchamp-Villon.  Not himself, no (laughter). Duchamp-Villon, my brother, has three pieces in the present show.  This one, his fourth piece, called Girl of the Woods, was made in 1910, I believe, a year before his head of Baudelaire and two years before his Cubist horse.  It is a terracotta cast of the original plaster which was in the 1913 show.  He died in November of 1918, from the long illness he had contracted at the front in the First World War.              

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Figure 30
Henri Matisse, The Young Sailor, II (Jeune Marin), 1906

                Now we come to Matisse, who I have been keeping for the last because I want to show you five important ones, although we haven’t got many upstairs.  Matisse was represented in the Armory Show by thirteen paintings, three drawings, and a large sculpture.  While Augustus John had thirty-eight, and Odilon Redon forty. But Matisse had a big share of angry hostility on the part of the public and the art critics.  Even though we’re now completely familiar with the five Matisses I’ll show you, we can imagine the shock they produced in 1913 on a public totally unaware of the “Wild Beast School,” the Fauves.  This painting, The Young Sailor  (Fig. 30) was done in 1906, in Collioure.  It is the second of two versions, this more graceful and assertive than the first one.  Now, the Blue Nude of 1907 painted also in Collioure, heavily accented in the Fauve style.  It is now in the Baltimore Museum.  This is Luxe, the second version of 1908.  It has only the word “luxe” in common with an earlier painting of 1904-5 called Luxe, Calme, et Volupté, a title taken from the famous poem of Baudelaire, L’Invitation au Voyage.  It is completely painted in Pointillist technique—the other one, not this one.  Girl with a Black Cat.  This is one of the numerous portraits Matisse made of his daughter Marguerite.  It is dated 1910, a year of many Matisse portraits.  And now, the last slide, The Red Studio, one of the four large interiors painted by Matisse in 1911.  Against a monochrome red, Matisse has scattered the colored miniature images of his own paintings and sculptures.  This last painting belongs to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

And now, before we part, I would like to salute a few artists, veterans of the Armory Show.  Archipenko, Georges Braque, Paul Burlin, Stuart Davis, Edward Hopper, Leon Kroll, Picasso, Monsieur [inaudible], Charles Sheeler, Jacques Villon, Walkowitz, Margaret and William Zorach, and myself.


Announcer: Lights!




Voice: Questions and answers – we’re never gonna get those.


Marcel Duchamp: Yes. I don’t know because what you do in 1913 you don’t do in 1963, even anybody. It is very difficult to say. I might and might not. I don’t know, I couldn’t tell. And you don’t know either.  I have a cigar now (laughter and applause). Thank you.

[end of recording]

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