Duchamp at the Great Upheaval, Guggenheim
By Jenny Fan
posted: 03-10-11
Apropos of Little Sister, Guggenheim, New York/ADAGP, Paris/Succession Marcel Duchamp
Image Source

Guggenheim's new exhibit, "The Great Upheaval: Modern Art from the Guggenheim's Collection" (1910-1918), tries to capture and encapsulate the eclectic and experimental art scenes that permeated Europe at the dawn of the tumultuous 20th century. Among the vanguard of this explosive artistic revolution were artists such as Franz Marc, Piet Mondrian, Vasily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp. 
Duchamp, in this exhibition, is represented by "Apropos of Little Sister" (1911), a painting that testifies to both his awareness of the artistic movements and their theoretical underpinnings, and his growing anticipation to break away from them.  “Apropos of Little Sister” is, by all means, not a renegade Duchamp.  It did, though, break from his early Impressionist paintings of relaxed brushwork by adjoining the fractured human form (Cubist) to an unstructured background, with a soft Cezanne influenced planar construction in monochromatic palette.  "Apropos" also resembles Jean Metzinger’s tone in “Tea Time” (1911), without the geometric precision. Both Metzinger and Duchamp (for a while) were part of the Puteaux Cubists, who rebelled against the conventional Cubist techniques of Picasso and Braque.  Duchamp, in time, would break away from the Puteaux Cubists and experiment with non optical art.

Concurrent to the Puteaux Cubists was Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a group formed by Vasily Kandinsky and Franz Marc in late 1911, which is a central focus of the exhibit.  The exhibit takes holdings from the Solomon R. Guggenheim in New York (including the rarely seen Duchamps), as well as the Peggy Guggenheim collection in Venice. "The Great Upheaval: Modern Art from the Guggenheim's Collection, (1910-1918)" is showing through June 1.

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