pleased to learn that Katherine Dreier has been the subject of a doctoral
dissertation. If there is evidence showing that the Tomkins and Marquis
accounts of her relationship with Duchamp are off base, adjustments
would be welcome. Dr. Angeline states that "correspondence between Dreier
and Duchamp does reveal that the Large Glass was indeed accidentally
broken, unbeknownst to both Duchamp and Dreier..." This is the explanation
given by Duchamp to J.J. Sweeney and Pierre Cabanne. But Duchamp's marvelous
all-weather disclaimers proclaim that Each word I tell you is stupid
and false and All in all I'm a pseudo, that's my characteristic.
He was begging posterity to question everything about him, and particularly
his statements. I have not succeeded in reaching Dr. Angeline to learn
of his sources, but if he is citing letters from the artist, these disclaimers
may apply. In any case, (and especially in view of these famous remarks)
letters cannot reveal that the Large Glass was accidentally
broken, they can only say so.
Duchamp was clearly creating his own myth. A telling attestation of
this can be found in the opening paragraph of William A. Camfield's
Marcel Duchamp: Fountain (Houston: The Menil Collection, 1989).
Before embarking on a 180-page dissertation about this enormously influential
work from 1917, Mr. Camfield cautions, "We do not even know with absolute
certainty that Duchamp was the artist — he himself once attributed it
to a female friend..." For all we can tell, Duchamp may have been in
collaboration with female friends even at this early date.