These six paintings linking Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray are part of a long-term
project on art, artists and art movements. The Duchamp/Man Ray paintings
are pairs or companion pieces. The paintings, in gouache, are not absolutely
faithful to detail or color and are painted with flat surfaces and thin
paint so as not to reproduce the texture of the originals. The series began
late in 1995. It was completed in early 2000 with nineteen paintings.
The work is in various paint media-gouache, acrylic, oil-acrylic gel
transfer photocopies and computer-generated type. While each pair of paintings
carries intellectual and personal content, their primary impact is visual.
The block letter texts framing the images are gleaned from various sources;
they are pertinent to the images and are combinations of artist's titles
and descriptions as well as observations from critics, historians and
curators, and others.
Some of the artists have influenced me or been a source of inspiration.
Others' work uses motifs and backdrops for intertextual discourse. Each
pair has a Jewish context or presence. The Jewishness is represented by
my selection of artists, critics, and historians. The paintings are personal
responses to specific aesthetics, works of art, artists, art movements,
art personalities, and my own social, aesthetic, or political engagement
In this century, copying, can be found in the work of Pablo Picasso,
Roy Lichtenstein and Sherrie Levine. Picasso abducted other sources because
he needed icons as sources of inspiration; Lichtenstein carried away various
modernist pictures to praise and subvert them for his popular comic book
style and Levine deconstructed modernist paradigms in her "stainless
steals." Unlike Picasso, I am not pilfering images; unlike Lichtenstein,
I am not re-designing paintings to convey a post-modern aura; and unlike
Levine, I am not re-writing history. But more like the poster paintings
of Charles Demuth, on the other hand, which were tributes to his friends
and associates, this work is largely about late modernism, artists and
critics and their complicated inter-personal associations.
The written material, aside the paintings, augments the narrative I tell
in pictures and words:
Paintings 1 & 2, 1997-1998 (44"x34")
Click to enlarge
Left Panel: ADOPTED BY THE FRENCH/PAINTING WITH
LIGHT/OUR OWN MAN RAY/BROKEN WITH SIGHT
background image is a painted copy of Man Ray's The Rope Dancer Accompanies
herself with her Shadows, 1916. This painting was completed while
Marcel Duchamp was working on his Large Glass; it is in homage to or,
at least, is an allusion to Duchamp's work. The central photocopy is a
Man Ray self-portrait photograph with a camera. His quote reads: "I tell
them that the tricks of today are the truths of tomorrow." The photocopy
in the lower center is a photograph of the lower portion of The Bride
Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even by Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp's
Dust Breeding, 1920.
Right panel: WELCOME TO NEW YORK/BROKEN WITH SIGHT/ENIGMATIC
DUCHAMP/ANTI RETINAL ART
image is a painted copy of Duchamp's drawing for the Large Glass.
The central photocopy is a photograph of Duchamp by Man Ray. His quote
reads: "It is idle to explain it, I do not explain it. It is, after all,
the fourth dimension." The photocopy in the lower center is the lower
portion of the Large Glass photographed by Charles Scheeler, c.
these paintings was gleaned from what the artists said and what others
said about them. "WELCOME TO NEW YORK," is from a Francis Picabia painting
completed shortly after he made his first visit to the city and encouraged
Duchamp to follow.
a son of a French notary, and Man Ray, born of immigrant Jews in Philadelphia,
were friends and partners in art and chess since they met in New Jersey
in 1915 where they feigned an imaginary game of tennis. Perhaps this was
the first work of Performance Art. They shared interests in Dada, machine-like
contrivances, cross-dressing, women, sex and readymades, as well as chess,
for over fifty years.
Paintings 3 & 4, 1998 (44"x34")
Left Panel: ...ROSE SEL A VIE/EROSE C'EST LA VIE/EM(MAN)UEL
(RA)DNITSK(Y)/C'EST DE LA BELLE HÆLEINE
images are painted copies of Man Ray drawings: the left side drawing was
done from a photograph of Man Ray's wife, Julie in 1942; the right side
is a surrealist drawing, Sablier-compte fils [(the) Hourglass
Counts (the) Threads, (probably another reference to the bride
stripping bare)], 1938. The central photocopy is a self-portrait photograph
in which Man Ray depicts himself about to indulge in multiple suicides.
His quote reads: "To Be-continued unnoticed." The photocopy lower center
is a magazine reproduction of a solarized print with color: Beauty
in Ultra Violet, 1940.
Right Panel: ...ROSE SEL A VIE/EROS C'EST LA VIE/RROSE
SELAVY/C'EST LA BELLE HELENE
images are painted copies of Duchamp's etchings. The left side is from
Lucas Cranach's Adam and Eve from a presentation, years before,
with Duchamp on stage as Adam and Bronia Perlmutter as Eve in a Ciné
Sketch produced by Francis Picabia and René Clair at the Théâtre des
Champs-Elysées. The right side is from a painting by Gustav Courbét-this
is the bride stripping bare; the falcon represents a "peeping Tom" bachelor
and "a false cunt and a real one," according to Duchamp. The central photocopy
is a photograph of Duchamp as Rrose Selavy-his alter ego Jewish woman
persona. His quote reads: "...I consider myself...'an unfrocked artist.'"
The photocopy lower center is Duchamp's relief maquette, painted leather
over a plaster mounted on velvet, for Etant donné: Given the Illuminating
Gas and the Waterfall, 1948-'49.
puns abound in the text: Man Ray's, "...ROSE SEL A VIE (originally a Rayograph
Dadist object portrait of Duchamp published in The little Review,
1922) translates to "ROSE THE SALT OF LIFE," Duchamp's French enunciation,
EROS C'EST LA VIE, is "EROTICISM THAT'S LIFE," and his English transliteration
of RROSE SELAVY is "ROSE LEVY." Other puns revolve around the perfume
bottle readymade with a photograph portrait of Duchamp as a woman wearing
a hat (not shown) called "C"EST DE LA BELLE HÆLEINE-BEAUTIFUL BREATH."
(I superimposed the "A" over the "E" to make the pun on "HALEINE" more
closely resemble "HELENE." "C'EST DE LA BELLE HELENE-BEAUTIFUL HELEN,"
which is my addition to the punster game.
Paintings 5 & 6, 1998 (44"x34")
Left Panel: I AND MARCEL A DUEL/THE KING IS MINE/PORTRAIT
OF THIRTY YEARS/THE QUEEN IS YOURS (This is to be read horizontally top
and bottom and vertically right and left.)
image is a painted copy of Man Ray's Night Sun-Abandoned Playground,
1943. The central photocopy is a photograph of Man Ray and Duchamp, as
old men, playing chess. His quote reads: "The Cosmic Urge-with ape-ologies
to PicASSo, 1915." The photocopy lower center is Man Ray's whimsical construction
of a chess board with three giant chess pieces, Permanent Attraction,
Panel: A YOUNG MAN OF GOOD/ELEMENTARY TREATICE/ PROVINCIAL/FAMILY/ON FOUR-DIMENSIONS
(This is to be read horizontally top and bottom and vertically right and
image is a painted copy of Duchamp's The Chess Game, 1910, which
includes his two artist brothers playing chess and his sisters sitting
around. The central photocopy is of a photograph of Man Ray and Duchamp,
as young men, playing chess. His quote reads: "A piece of canned chance.
It's amusing to put chance in a can," 1913-1914. The photocopy lower center
is of Duchamp's construction, "Pocket Chess set with Rubber Glove,"
1966, upside down.
The mysteries of chess, plays on words, games, chance, physics
and mathematics were mutual interests of these perplexing artists.