Hat Rack (Porte Chapeau)
1917, New York
This core Readymade illustrates the basic criterion of physical displacement from original context. An everyday, functional household item, this hat rack suspends from the ceiling and is in turn rendered useless. It is literally out of reach.
Ramirez compares the form of Hat Rack to that of a female spider and praying mantis (44). Its shadow, as seen in Shadows of Readymades, looks like a spider sitting on the web of another Readymade's shadow. In this sense, this Readymade acts as a feminine object. However, its phallic spikes (which were originally functional) also gender the Readymade as male. Useless, they remind the viewer of Duchamp's intense interest in the state of the bachelor, which is most obviously seen in his major work Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (1915-23). As Schwarz explains, both Hat Rack and Bottle Rack are "reminiscent of the theme of the Large Glass... there is a double implication in the fact that the conjunction of the allegorical symbols of male (the spikes/pegs) and female (the bottles/hats) never takes place: in both the Readymades, a taboo on sexual relations is indicated, and both seem to symbolize Duchamp's Bachelor status" (200-201). In essence, Duchamp is exploring the inevitable futility of the sexual act, an idea seen in many of his works, including the early and well-known Chocolate Grinders (No. 1, Feb.-Mar. 1913; No. 2, Feb. 1914).
|Original version, 1917|
Replicas in eight editions made under supervision of Duchamp
top of page