The original version of this Readymade was not modified in any way, thus deserving the categorization of pure Readymade. Schwarz explains, Bottle Rack is the "first Readymade in a full sense of the word because it was not modified in any way except for the addition of a 'verbal color,' that is, a phrase or title that Duchamp inscribed on it but later could not recall" (189). Most agree that Duchamp purchased it at the Bazar de l'Hotel de Ville, a department store near the city hall in the center of Paris. Duchamp himself said, "I just bought it at the bazaar of the town hall." However, Moffitt claims it was bought at a "dry goods shop" (230).
The 1914 version came to its death when the artist's sister Suzanne allegedly threw it out when cleaning out Duchamp's Paris studio shortly after he left for New York in 1915. As Tomkins notes, she "must have decided [they] were useless junk" (158). Duchamp told Cabanne, "...when I moved from the rue Saint-Hippolyte to leave for the U.S., my sister and sister-in-law took everything out, threw it in the garbage, and said no more about it" (47).
The Bottle Rack's primary function is, of course, to dry bottles. Duchamp may not have created this bottle rack, but he did displace it and disallow it to function. Bottle Rack never received its bottles, thus its empty phallic spikes may be seen to sexually represent the bachelor status Duchamp was interested in and explored in many of his works, including the famous Large Glass. As Schwarz observes, "the obvious sexual (namely phallic) symbolism of this work need not be emphasized..." (189). The phallic nature of this piece is universally accepted, as Seigel calls its "waiting for wet bottles to be hung on its prongs... obviously, laughably Freudian" (126).
2) 1936, Paris
Present location unknown
Bought by Duchamp and Man Ray for exhibition of Surrealist Objects, Galerie Charles Ratton, Paris, 1936
59 cm high, 37 cm diameter at base
3) 1960, New York
Collection Robert Rauschenberg, New York
Bought by Robert Rauschenberg
56.4 x 36.8 cm
5) 1963, Stockholm
Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Gift of the Moderna Museets Vanner
56 cm x 36 cm
6) 1963, Los Angeles
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CA
Gift of Irving Blum, in memory of artist, 1968
73.8 x 35.6 cm
7) 1964, Milan
Edition of eight replicas, each 64.2 cm high
Made under Duchamp's supervision, after 1936 Man Ray photograph
Two replicas outside edition for artist and publisher, and two more made for museum exhibition
top of page