[The following is the transcript of the
talk Marcel Duchamp (Fig. 1A, 1B)gave on February
17th, 1963, on the occasion of the opening ceremonies of the 50th
anniversary retrospective of the 1913 Armory Show (Munson-Williams-Procter
Institute, Utica, NY, February 17th – March 31st; Armory of the 69th Regiment,
NY, April 6th – 28th) Mr. Richard N. Miller was in attendance that day
taping the Utica lecture. Its total length is 48:08. The following transcription
by Taylor M. Stapleton of this previously unknown recording is published
in Tout-Fait for the first time.]
Duchamp in Utica at the opening of "The Armory Show-50th Anniversary
Duchamp at the entrance of the 50th anniversary exhibition
of the Armory Show, NY, April 1963, Photo: Michel Sanouillet
Announcer: I present to you Marcel Duchamp.
Marcel Duchamp: (aside)
It's OK now, is it? Is it done? Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?
Yes, I think so. I'll have to put my glasses on. As you all know (feedback
noise). My God. (laughter.)As you all know, the Armory Show
was opened on February 17th, 1913, fifty years ago, to the
day (Fig. 2A, 2B). As a result of this event,
it is rewarding to realize that, in these last fifty years, the United
States has collected, in its private collections and its museums, probably
the greatest examples of modern art in the world today. It would be interesting,
like in all revivals, to compare the reactions of the two different audiences,
fifty years apart. If only a happy few in this room actually saw the Armory
Show of 1913, all of you have heard and read so much about it that we
all are very familiar with the kind of reception the public of 1913 gave
to it. It was a veritable bataille d’ [inaudible]with such
weapons as derision, contempt, caricature, engaged in approval and defense
of a new form of art expression, a battle which seems, today, hard to
Figure 2A Interior space of the Armory Show, New
York (detail) 1913
Figure 2B Cover of the catalogue for "The Armory
Show-50th Anniversary Exhibition," 1963
In Europe, this same period of 1910-1914 has been called
the heroic epoch of modern art, and had its convulsions in the shows of
the Independents and the Salon d’Automne of 1911 and 1912. But
the reaction of the European public was only a mild cry of indignation
in comparison to the negative explosion at the Armory Show. The public
of 1963 will certainly not be shocked. All of the paintings and sculptures
have been seen or reproduced so often during the last 50 years, and particularly
after having been part of the controversy of 1913, most of them have established
their worthiness. In other words (laughs), in other words, today,
the public, in order to judge, will be on a more understanding and critical
level, and fully aware of the concentration [inaudible] by the 50 years
of survival. A feeling of reverence, with nostalgic overtones, will certainly
prevail in the final verdict by our present aesthetic standards.
I hope, this afternoon, to add a little note to the Show
itself, by showing you a number of works which were in the 1913 exhibition,
but could not, for different reasons, be obtained for the present show.
I will also show a few others, which, although in neither show, reflect
the spirit of that period. The aim of the Munson-Williams-Procter Institute
has been to show only the paintings and sculpture that actually were in
the Armory Show. In fact, over 325 original items have been collected
- a real tour de force. And now, we’ll start with the slides:
Ingres. Ingres. Dominique Ingres. Chronologically, the
first artist on the list. Ingres was represented in 1913 by two drawings
without any title in the catalogue. This one, a very beautiful study of
a portrait he made of the Comtesse d’Haussonville(Fig.
3) was done around 1840, and may or may not have been actually
in the 1913 Show. In any case, a drawing of such quality could compare
favorably to any Ingres drawing, and we’ll accept it as though it had
been, hmm? (laughter) It’s about the same.
Puvis de Chavannes next. Puvis de Chavannes. As a distant
disciple of Ingres, Puvis de Chavannes applied a classical approach to
the technique of mural painting during the middle and the end of the 19th
century. In this Prodigal Son (Fig. 4),
painted in 1879, Puvis de Chavannes seems to have completely ignored the
realist storm of Courbet, followed by the Impressionists’ revolution,
and all the isms that raged until he died in 1898. It shows courage—or
Daumier. Honoré Daumier. Third-Class Carriage (Fig.
5) by Daumier. A very well-known masterpiece, which was included
in the original show. Daumier made two other wash drawings of trains and
their passengers, second and first class - when trains were quite a novelty,
in the world of 1860. This oil painting now belongs to the Metropolitan
Museum in New York.
images to enlarge
Ingres, The Comtesse d'Haussonville, 1845, The Frick Collection,
de Chavannes, Prodigal Son, 1872. National Gallery, Washington.
Photo by Claude Cernuschi
Honoré Daumier, The
Third-Class Carriage, 1863-65, The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Manet. Manet. Édouard Manet, who died in 1883, painted
some beautiful portraits in the last years of his life. This on, Mery
Laurent (Fig. 6) —M-e-r-y, I don’t
know why, hmm? Mery Laurent, the lady with the black cloak. Also
called L’Automne, painted in 1882. It was included in the Armory
Show, and is now in the Museum of Fine Arts in Nancy. Although Manet was
on friendly terms with the Impressionists, he belongs to an earlier generation
and never influenced or was influenced by any of their theories.
Degas. Edgar Degas painted this Carriage at the Races
(Fig. 7), one of the many famous pictures
Degas made of this scene. It was painted in 1873, when he returned from
a trip to America, where he had visited his family in New Orleans, where
his mother was a Creole. One still feels in this painting the mark of
the Ingres and Manet influence, which disappeared in his later pastels
of ballet dancers and washerwomen.
Redon. Odilon Redon. There are so many beautiful Redons
…but this one is not perfect. This luminous pastel of 1910, called Roger
and Angelica (Fig. 8), was among the fifty
Redons shown at the original exhibition. Redon’s subjects were only simple
incidents in the general arrangement of colors and forms. The figures
and the faces in his pastels make no pretense at representing natural
truth. They are more like the prolongation of dreams. And Redon’s pastels
show the preoccupation of the non-figurative theories that we hear so
much about today. (Today it’s abstraction.)
images to enlarge
Manet, Portrait de Méry Laurent, 1832-1883
Redon, Roger and Angelica, c. 1910, The Museum of Modern
Art, The Lillie P. Bliss Collection
Now, we go back to the Impressionists.
Monet. Claude Monet was represented by five canvasses in
the Armory Show. This first one, Boardwalk at Trouville, 1870,
when Trouville was the Atlantic City of France, is an early attempt at
Impressionism, since the name “Impressionism” was coined only four years
later in 1874. And we have another Monet, entirely different. This one
is a Water Lily Pool, on the contrary, dated 1904, much later,
and is one of a series of water lily murals, which link Monet with the
birth of abstraction. The two Monets that you saw were in the 1913 Show.
Les Poseuses (The Models),1888
Seurat. Georges Seurat, in his too-short life - he died
at age 32 - achieved a very important revolution with Pointillism, which
was his personal reaction to Impressionism. This beautiful version of
Les Poseuses (Fig. 9) of 1888, shows
his very unique contribution to the technique of Neo-Impressionism. A
large canvas of the same subject, Les Poseuses, is in the Barnes
Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania.
Cross. Henri-Edmond Cross was with Seurat and Paul Signac
at the origins of Pointillism, the art movement that succeeded Impressionism
around 1880. This painting, called Clearing (Fig.
10) of 1906-7, was in the Armory Show, and is a perfect illustration
of the theories of Pointillism, based on the scientific studies of Chevreuil.
Simultaneous contrast of colors which also influenced Delauney a few years
later, around 1912.
Toulouse-Lautrec. (I think we have it upstairs, I think)
Toulouse-Lautrec is less known for his oil paintings than for his posters.
Nevertheless, with paintings such as this one, called Red-haired Woman
Seated in Garden(Fig. 11) in 1889,
he belonged to the Impressionist group. This painting was in the original
show, and is also included in the anniversary show. (I saw it last night,
Gauguin. Gauguin. Paul Gauguin brought back this oil from
his first trip to Tahiti. It’s called Mata Mua (Fig.
12), which in Tahitian dialect means “in open times.” It
was shown at the important Gauguin exhibition at the Durand-Ruel Gallery
in Paris in 1893, when Gauguin was 45, already. As you know, he died in
miserable conditions during his second stay in Tahiti in 1903.
Cross. The Clearing, c. 1906/07
de Toulouse-Lautrec, Red-Haired Woman Sitting in Conservatory,
1889, private collection
Gauguin, Mata Mua, 1892
And van Gogh. Van Gogh. Of the 14 paintings that Van Gogh
had in the 1913 show, five important ones are in the anniversary show,
upstairs. This one, called Hills at Arles, from the
Thannhauser Collection was painted in 1889 at Arles or at St. Remy, I
can’t be sure. When van Gogh was very sick in the hospital at St. Remy.
I show you now another landscape very much like this one. Olive Treesat St. Remy, painted in the same year, 1889. Very luminous expression
and all - almost the same thing. In the following year, 1890, van Gogh
went to live his last month in Auvers, a small town near Paris, where
he painted several portraits of young girls like this one, Mademoiselle
Ravoux (Fig. 13), June 1890, which
is included in the anniversary show. Van Gogh died a month later. Incidentally,
this last painting used to belong to Katherine Dreier, who lent it to
the Armory Show, and it is now in the Cleveland Museum of Art.
And now we come to Cézanne. Paul Cézanne. Woman with
a Rosary (Fig. 14). It was in the
Show of 1913. Cézanne painted this important portrait at the end of his
life in about 1903, probably in Aix [en-Provence]. In 1904-1905, the Salon
d’Automne and the Independents gave him a very important one-man show.
He died in 1906, before he had received a worldwide recognition.
Now we can do Ryder. Albert Ryder, a great, great painter,
who came from an American Cape Cod family, and lived for many years in
New York, on Washington Square and later, West 15th Street,
in a most modest and bohemian way, completely absorbed in and dedicated
to his inner vision. This Moonlight Marine (Fig.
15) was in the original and is also in the present show. It’s one
of Ryder’s best-known themes, a typical expression of his position as
a forerunner of abstract art, as we understand it today. Very abstract,
isn’t it? You hardly see the boats. There are some boats.
images to enlarge
VincentVan Gogh, Mademoiselle Ravoux, June 1890
An Old Woman with a Rosary, 1900-04
Albert Pinkham Ryder,
Moonlight Marine, c. 1908, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New
McNeill Whistler, The Little Rose of Lyme Regis, 1895. Oil
on canvas. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA.
The Bath, 1910
James McNeill Whistler painted this portrait called Little Rose of
Lyme Regis (Fig. 16), which is, I suppose, a small town
in England. It was painted in 1895, and it is considered as one of his
finest achievements in quality, as compared to most of his life-sized
portraits. As we all know, Whistler lived a great part of his life abroad,
and became quite a big international figure around the turn of the century.
Another American, Mary Cassatt is coming now. Mary Cassatt
had two paintings in the 1913 show of her favorite subject, mother and
child. She only painted that, all her life, very much like this one called
The Bath (Fig. 17), 1910. That
was not in the Show, I don’t think it was in the 1913 Show. In France,
where she spent most of her life, she was very closely associated with
the Impressionists—Degas, Pissarro, Berthe Morisot—and considered one
of theirs. This painting is owned by the French government in the Petit
Palais collection in Paris.
Now, we have the lights. Before we go on with the slides,
I wanted to elaborate a bit on the art situation in America in the years
before 1913. In New York, the private gallery of Alfred Stieglitz, Fifth
Avenue, situated at 291 Fifth Avenue, although concerned with the establishment
of photography as an art, was the scene of the introduction of Rodin,
January 1908, and Matisse, April 1908, to America. I mean they didn’t
come, only their things came, hmm (laughs). Stieglitz and Steichen,
during the next years, followed up by showing Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri
Rousseau, Cezanne, Picasso, and the American Max Weber. In 1910, the 291
Gallery gave a group show of American artists: Marsden Hartley, Dove,
John Marin, Alfred Moore, Walkowitz, and others.
Quite independently from 291, and more like a gesture of
revolt against the Academy, a group of American artists held an exhibition
in 1908 at the Macbeth Gallery in New York called The Eight Show. Robert
Henri, John Sloan, George Luks, William Glackens, Ernest Lawson, Everett
Shinn, Arthur B. Davies, and Maurice Prendergast. The show of The Eightat the Macbeth Gallery was a tremendous success, and was soon followed
by the creation of a Henri School of Art, headquartered in the famous
Lincoln Arcade Building, where lived myself later on, on 66th
Street, where a large group of younger artists, like Bellows, Stuart Davis,
Edward Hopper, Walter Pach, joined the ranks of the original Eight, under
the guiding spirit of Robert Henri. The group was to be called, much later,
the Ashcan School, which, to a certain extent, was a prophecy of what
we know today as a proper art school, hmm? (laughter) In April
1910, a large independent show was organized by Sloan and Walt Kuhn. The
great success of the show established firmly the faction of the young
American artists in opposition to the Academy.
Such was the climate in which Arthur B. Davies, elected
president of the newly-formed Association of American Painters and Sculptors
in 1912, conceived with Walt Kuhn and Walter Pach, the project of an expanded
version of the 1910 Independent with the participation of European artists.
The project materialized in the Armory Show of 1913. Among the difficulties
to organizing this large exhibition, the first important obstacle was
the duty imposed on all import of all fine arts to America at that time.
It was a remarkable decision of John Quinn, the famous New York lawyer
and art patron, to go to Washington, and argue and convince the lawmakers
to change the law. He succeeded, and obtained the admission duty-free
of all fine original works of art to America less than a hundred years
old, I believe. This action is still enforced today. Now, we will see
more, more, more slides.
Yes. This is Henri. Robert Henri. Robert Henri was really
a moving spirit of American modern art, in the period immediately preceding
the Armory Show, though he was a finer teacher than a painter, in my opinion.
This painting called Laughing Boy(Fig.
18) was not in the original show, but in the show of The Eight
I spoke of, in 1908. It is a typical Henri portrait, but still too academic,
I feel. The Ashcan is [inaudible]. (laughter)
Bellows. George Bellows, one of Henri’s pupils, belongs
to the generation of the Ashcan School, and he is known for his pictures
of boxing matches, executed in a dynamic narrative style. This view of
Lower Manhattan called TheLone Tenement(Fig.
19) was painted in 1909, after Bellows had been accepted by the
Academy in 1907, and before he began painting sports scenes of violent
realism, which is more the Ashcan, like boxing.
Prendergast. A beutiful Prendergast. Maurice Prendergast
spent his formative years in Europe. When he returned to America, he was
invited to join the exhibition of the Eight in 1908 with Arthur B. Davies,
Ernest Lawson, and the Henri group. He also showed at the Independents,
1910. Later on, Prendergast, Glackens, Bellows, and Charles Sheeler were
among the founders of the second Society of Independent Artists – no jury
- in 1917 in New York. This painting, called Ponte della Paglia (Fig.
20), was probably painted in Italy in 1899, I think. The flag is
green. It’s an Italian flag in 1899. It shows, perhaps, an influence of
Bonnard. It’s very true for the one in the anniversary show, upstairs,
in the collection of this institute, Landscape with Figures. I
remember, Prendergast was a very nice person. Very…very…almost timid.
images to enlarge
Robert Henri, Dutch
Joe (Jopie Van Slouten), 1910
Bellows, Lone Tenement, 1909
Prendergast, Ponte della Paglia, 1898-99, The Phillips Collection,
Now, Walkowitz. Walkowitz is 82 now, today—82 years old
today. He was born in Siberia, and came to the United States as a child.
The title of these three drawings is Duncan Dancers (Fig.
21). Walkowitz made a great number of studies and drawings in the
Isadora Duncan School of Dance. His sketches of Isadora and her pupils
are a very vivid evocation of the great American dancer and teacher. At
the time of the Armory Show, he was with the Stieglitz group.
Katherine Dreier. Katherine Dreier sent this oil, The
Blue Bowl, and we never could find it. It is certainly not lost, but
we couldn’t find it. At the Armory Show, she had spent several years in
Europe, and brought back a small collection of European artists, among
which is van Gogh’s Mademoiselle Ravoux, that you saw on the screen
a moment ago. As a pioneer of abstract art, she established a few years
later the Société Anonyme and The Museum of Modern Art of 1920,
long before the other Museum of Modern Art. A collection of international
artworks, which is now at Yale University.
Kroll. Leon Kroll. You can hardly see it, it’s from a newspaper,
but anyway. He painted this painting called Terminal Yards(Fig.
22) around 1911, and it was in the 1913 Show. Unfortunately, I
have been unable to find a better slide. This one is taken from a newspaper
reproduction. The painting was bought at the Armory Show by Arthur Jerome
Eddy, a Chicago lawyer and art collector, a rather eccentric character
- he bought two of my own paintings, (laughter) and was the first
man in Chicago to have his portrait painted by Whistler and to ride a
bicycle (laughter). You know, I knew him and he was very nice man.
Rousseau. Rousseau, Rousseau, Rousseau. Le Douanier
has three landscapes in the present show, very much in the spirit
of this one, which is called View at Malakoff (Fig.
23). Malakoff is a small town on the outskirts of Paris,
dated 1898. I think it was also in the original Show, and I want to show
you a bigger one, which was not in the Show. And now, in another vein,
which accounts for his fully-deserved recognition, Rousseau becomes the
dreamer, the poet in these large paintings like this one, called The
Dream, painted in 1901.
images to enlarge
Walkowitz, Isadora Duncan, date unknown
Leon Kroll, Terminal Yards, ca. 1911
Julian Rousseau, Study forView at Malakoff (Vue
de Malakoff), 1908
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
ofFernande 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
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.
images to enlarge
Picasso, Woman with Mustard Pot (La Femme au pot de moutarde),
Brancusi, The Muse (La Muse), 1912, Solomon R. Guggenheim
Museum, New York
Braque, Violin and Pitcher, 1910
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.
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,
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).