The Philadelphia Museum of Art will present the first exhibition to examine the genesis, construction, and reception of Etant donnes: 1 la chute d'eau, 2 le gaz deeclairage (Given: 1 The Waterfall, 2 The Illuminating Gas), Marcel Duchamp's enigmatic final masterwork. Duchamp (1887-1968) constructed Etant donnes in complete secrecy over a period of twenty years, from 1946 to 1966, during which he publicly claimed to have gone “underground” and given up art for chess.
The exhibition will be on view from August 15 to November 29, 2009.
It was not until after his death on October 2, 1968 that the work was discovered in his studio. The multi-media assemblage surprised the art world and perplexed the public when, as a gift to the Museum and in accordance with the artist’s wishes, it was permanently installed in July 1969, joining the world’s largest collection of his works, including Nude Descending a Staircase, No.2 (1912); The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) (1915-23), to which it closely relates, and readymades such as With Hidden Noise (1916) and Why Not Sneeze, Rose Selavy(1921).