|Duchamp in Sweden 1933-1970: A Critical Review|
|by Eriksson, Lief|
|There are no comments posted for this Article.|
| This is the first chronological presentation
of Marcel Duchamp´s appearance in the context of Swedish art. |
This review is based on material related to Marcel Duchamp published in Sweden from 1933-1970. My sources are art magazines, literature magazines, essays, monographs, catalogues, and similar printed material in my archive: The Swedish Archive of Artists Books, Malmö, Sweden (SAAB). (See appendix.)
The reasons for this critical review are simple. First, I want to show how Duchamp was introduced in Sweden and by whom. Secondly, I aim to trace how and when his works gained public recognition, beyond the contexts of Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism, and Surrealism.
My study shows that the Swedish art world was the first to recognize this specific quality of Duchamp's work. In Ulf Linde´s latest book Marcel Duchamp, Stockholm, 1986, page 26, he remarks: "Pontus [Hultén] was the first to interest himself in Duchamp in this country [Sweden] and, partly, he considered the exhibition ["Art in Motion," 1961] as a tribute to Duchamp." (1)
I have used Arturo Schwarz´s critical catalogue raisonné of 1997, The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp, the revised and expanded edition, Thames and Hudson, 1997, as a main reference for Duchamp's works. As far as I know, it is the latest published to date. In the following text an 'S,' for Schwarz, followed by the catalogue raisonné number, identifies a work by Marcel Duchamp. (2)
Notes on How Schwarz Deals with Duchamp's Appearance in Sweden in His Index and Bibliography of 1969 and 1997.
It is obvious that Schwarz has not understood the importance of the Swedish art context in connection with Duchamp's kinetic works and readymades.
In Schwarz´s index, pages 619-630, from 1969, the following entries refer to Swedish art figures: Ilmar Laaban, Ingemar Gustafson (Leckius) and Erik Lindgren on page 592, (see Salamander below), while Pontus Hultén has three entries on pages 482, 496, and 600. The Moderna Museet, (Stockholm), has sixteen entries, but they all refer to the replicas of Duchamp's readymades made by Linde and Hultén during 1960-1963. Though Ulf Linde has as many as twenty-six entries, there are no remarks about how important his involvement must have been to the general acceptance of Duchamp and his readymades.
Hultén's three entries in Schwarz's index, 1969, mention the replica of the "Rotary Glass Plates (Precision Optics)," 1920, S 379 a, and the replica of "Door: 11 rue Larrey, 1927," S 426, both made in 1961. The last entry refers to the "Bicycle Wheel." Of Ulf Linde's twenty-six entries, ten refer to his participation in Schwarz´s book Marcel Duchamp ReadyMades, 1913-1964, Milan, 1964 (3). Twelve entries refer to Linde's readymade replicas, one to Linde's Swedish translation of "The Green Box" in Konstrevy,1961-1963, (see entry), one to his book Marcel Duchamp, 1963, and three to his interviews.
The three Swedish poets Ilmar Laaban, Erik Lindegren, and Ingemar Gustafson (Leckius) are in the index for their Swedish translation of SUR cen SUR and Breton's Lighthouse of the Bride in Salamander, no. 1, 1955, (see entry).
Under Section XX, "Bibliography of Works Quoted," 1969, only Ulf Linde's MARiée CELibataire is noted from Schwarz´s Marcel Duchamp: Readymades, Etc., 1964.
In Schwarz's 1997 edition, Pontus Hultén's index is not mentioned at all, which is strange. His name does, however, appear in Section XXII, on page 910 [Under the "Bicycle Wheel"] for the catalogue "Bewogen Beweging" ("Art in Motion," 1961, Amsterdam), which is the same note cited as no. 144, page 600, in the 1969 edition. (4)
Yet, these entries are incorrect. What Schwarz refers to might be K. G. (Pontus) Hulten's text A Short Survey about the History of Kinetic Art During the 20th Century, published in the catalogue of "Art in Motion." Schwarz also forgets to mention that this exhibition was curated for the Moderna Museet and that Hultén, along with Carlo Derkert, Daniel Spoerri and Billy Klüver, was a member of the exhibition committee. Pontus Hultén was actually the editor of the catalogue. It is clear that he was in fact the one who initiated "Art in Motion." (See above quote from Linde's book,1986). In addition, Schwarz only mentions the Amsterdam venue. The reasons for Schwarz's oversight in this area, specifically in Hultén's involvement, are unclear. Even Linde has no more than seven entries in the 1997 edition. These include no. 169, no. 175, and no. 195, which are all interviews with Duchamp. The other four entries refer to Linde's translation of the "Green Box" and his participation in Arturo Schwarz´s book Marcel Duchamp: Readymades Etc., 1964.
Under Schwarz´s "Bibliography of Works Quoted," Section XXIII, 1997, is Hultén, Karl Gunnar Pontus, The Machine, 1968, and Marcel Duchamp, Work and Life, 1993. Only Ulf Linde's book Marcel Duchamp, 1963, and his contribution, MARiée CELibatairein in Schwarz´s Marcel Duchamp: Readymades Etc., 1964, are mentioned here.
In Schwarz´s 1997 edition, Section XXIV, Timothy Shipe's "Bibliography 1969-95," acts as a supplement to the descriptive bibliography for the 1969 and 1970 editions. Here, Linde's two books of 1963 and 1986 are mentioned. Additionally, he has three entries under Section 4, within the bibliography, "Secondary Literature: Articles and Essays". Two of them appear in the catalogue that was published for Duchamp's retrospective exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou in 1977. Under Section 5 of Shipe's bibliography, "Exhibition Catalogues," Linde appears again, now as the editor for the catalogue published by the Moderna Museet, 1986-1987, for the exhibition "Marcel Duchamp." Pontus Hultén is now mentioned as the editor of the catalogue published by Palazzo Grassi, Venice, 1993.
Section XXV, "Exhibition History," of the 1997 edition, is organized in two parts. The first part documents solo exhibitions from 1937. The second part records group shows in which Duchamp participated during his lifetime. This last section is highly selective according to Timothy Shipe. The following solo exhibitions in Sweden are recorded: "Marcel Duchamp," Bokkonsum, 1960, "Marcel Duchamp," Galerie Burén af Eva, 1963, and "Marcel Duchamp," Moderna Museet, 1986-1987. The group exhibitions are "Art in Motion," 1961, and "Dada," Moderna Museet, 1966. These are all listed, but Pontus Hultén's exhibitions "Art in Motion" and "Bewogen Beweging" are the only major references. The fact this was ignored remains somewhat perplexing.
Though Schwarz has mentioned those who were interested in Duchamp's works in Sweden, he has excluded essential information and conclusions concerning Duchamp's early appearance in the context of Swedish art. Thus ignoring its effect on his career since the mid-fifties in regard to his kinetic works and readymades.
Comments on Lebel's Index
Robert Lebel's first monograph from 1959, (5) was published five years after the exhibition at Samlaren in collaboration with Duchamp. Curiously enough, that show and the magazine, KASARK [no. 1], are not listed. In Lebel's bibliography, under "General References," no. 98, is the Hultén (K) & Vasarely (V) catalogue Le Mouvement, Galerie Denis René, Paris, 1955. Under "Special Studies and Documents," no. 68, is Bo Lindwall's article Saboteur et anti-artiste, from Konstrevy,1955 (see entry).
In Lebel's revised edition of 1967, (6) Ulf Linde's book, Marcel Duchamp, 1963, appears under the "Bibliography: Addenda, Part 3" no. 93. In part 5 of the "Addenda," under no.103, is "Bokkonsum, Invitation Card," with a foreword by K. G. Hultén, Stockholm, 1960. No.108 lists "Art in Motion," Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Copenhagen.
Lebel writes in "Catalogue Raisonné: Addenda, Part 2," 1967, "Until 1960, Duchamp had usually made or chosen himself the replicas and editions of his own works. In 1960, a group of his Scandinavian admirers, including K. G. Hultén, Director of the Stockholm Moderna Museet, Ulf Linde, P. O. Ultvedt and Magnus Wibom, started working together on replicas which were later approved and signed by Duchamp." Though Lebel's comments are correct, he, like Schwarz, does not see the crucial importance of Duchamp's early appearance in Sweden in regard to his kinetic works and readymades.
The Swedish Art World and Marcel Duchamp
Pontus Hultén was the first to acknowledge Duchamp's crucial works of kinetic art and readymades. The first time he did so was in the inaugural issue of KASARK, 1954 (Published by Galerie Samlaren, Stockholm) (7), and continued to do so in the following three issues. These articles became a platform for Hultén's concepts and extensive knowledge of Duchamp's kinetic art and readymades. KASARK is one of the rarest art magazines published in Sweden, (see following entry), and can be compared with The Blind Man. (The name KASARK originates from Mark Twain´s short story The Ascension of Captain Stormfield. It is defined as a unit of weight. One kasark equals the weight of one million earths.)
Readymades at Galerie Eva af Burén, Stockholm, 1963
The exhibition, including Linde's replicas of Duchamp's readymades at Galerie Eva af Burén, Stockholm,1963, was the first show to ever concentrate on his readymades. Duchamp was quite enthusiastic about the proposal. He wrote back, "For the show at Mrs. Buren's I agree thoroughly with your idea to have every Readymade shown in exact replicas, Marcel," and thought that Schwarz should use Linde's replicas as models for the 1964 editions of the readymades. (Ulf Linde's Marcel Duchamp, 1986, pages 52, 57). Concerning the release of the replicas in 1964 in Milan, Schwarz borrowed Linde's copies for the show. It was there that Duchamp signed Linde's versions, which are now at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm.
Crucial Exhibitions in Sweden
My study attempts to shows how important the Swedish art world must have been to the overall appreciation of Duchamp's kinetic works and readymades. When looking at the record of exhibitions related to Marcel Duchamp since the 1950s, one consistently finds the involvement of Pontus Hultén. It began in 1954 with the exhibition "Objects or Artefacts Reality Fulfilled" at Agnes Widlund's Galerie Samlaren, February - March, Stockholm, 1954, and continued with "Le Mouvement," at the Galerie Denise René, Paris, 1955, (8). The exhibitions "Marcel Duchamp," Bokkonsum, Stockholm, 1960, (9) "Art in Motion," Amsterdam, Stockholm, Louisiana, Denmark, 1961, and "The Machine," the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1968-1969 (10), followed. Some of these exhibitions are listed in Lebel's and Schwarz's texts, but both failed to acknowledge their importance.
In 1960 Ulf Linde published Spejare (11) that had an enormous impact on Sweden's art world, primarily due to his presentation of Marcel Duchamp's works. Yet even Linde forgot to mention Galerie Samlaren and KASARK in his text and made a significant mistake about the "Bottlerack" by saying "1914 [Duchamp] took a bottlerack from a cafe and exhibited it at a salon as a sculpture," page 43. This, as I explain later, is an incorrect statement. (see entry).
Duchamp's Intriguing Titles
It is well known that Duchamp was very specific about his titles. Therefore, I have chosen to quote the titles from Arturo Schwarz's latest catalogue raisonné for three reasons. First, it is the most complete list of Duchamp's works, like Köchel's register of Mozart's works. Second, it is based on Schwarz's direct collaboration with Duchamp, as was the previous catalogue raisonné of 1969, revised and updated in 1970 and 1997. Third, Schwarz has a cross-reference to Robert Lebel's catalogue raisonné, the first Duchamp monograph published in 1959 and later revised in 1967.
Duchamp's titles have probably been altered or misunderstood through the years. I have therefore quoted the titles as they stand in the captions of the Swedish material, and place parentheses around the titles as they appear in Schwarz´s latest catalogue raisonné.
Common Errors Made Concerning Duchamp's Readymades
In my study, I examine some of the misunderstandings of Duchamp's works that are commonly made by art critics and readers. For example, it is often said that his readymades have been exhibited in their original versions. This is untrue, as they have obviously been copies or replicas. He specifically confirmed new replicas of lost readymades made by Ulf Linde, Richard Hamilton and others. Additionally, there are the Schwarz editions from 1964 that celebrate the fiftieth Anniversary of the readymades' introduction in the art world. I do not think Duchamp had any objections about that, because it coincides with his attitudes towards art and the art world. His opinion about art and artists can be examplified in his response to the question "Who is a famous artist?" to which he answered: "He's a lucky guy." (Interview with Ulf Linde, Stockholm, 1961.)
(For a closer look at Duchamp's readymades refer to Hector Obalk's essay The Unfindable Readymades in ToutFaitJournal, Vol. 1, Issue 2, 1999.)
Due to all the errors concerning the provenance of Duchamp's works, particularly his readymades, I have listed them in an appendix. If a work exists, it is listed along with its current location. The appendix also includes Schwarz's inclusive categories of each item.
In the appendix, I have also listed my primary sources chronologically and indicated further readings regarding people of interest.####PAGES####