A Post-card and The Clew

I. Readymade Postcard of Readymade Art

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Post-card is the result of joining 3 ‘readymades’ by analogy: Duchamp’s Bottle Dryer, the Coca-Cola bottle, and a postcard of “Christ Enthroned” by Jan Van Eyck (also objects produced in series, although with different aesthetic intentions). In this way, the juxtaposition of 3 powerful icons (one of them invisible, only referred to in the postcard) activates their corresponding connotations: industrial, cultural, and religious. The stamp, another readymade, is a spiraling galaxy that sends the postcard to a more ‘scientific’ dynamic level (optic disks, View, etc).

II. The Clew

A visual interpretation of Marcel Duchamp, A Bruit Secret [With Hidden Noise] 1916, in a sequence of seven images.

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Figs. Bottle Dryer, With Hidden Noise, Chessboard, Note
© 2005 Succession Marcel Duchamp, ARS, N.Y./ADAGP, Paris. All rights

The Trashures Project

The pieces in my Trashures Project series are created and then “abandoned” in public places like parks, street corners, and vacant lots. I photo-document each piece, both immediately and long
after it is abandoned, and post a detailed web page showing the pieces and their interactions with passersby. Often, fate collaborates with me:
the pieces have been left untouched for days, relocated, destroyed, and even “collected” by random individuals. I began the project in May, 2002, and have abandoned 26 pieces since then.

The Trashures are an experiment in the contextual placement of art objects in the everyday world. The project aims to bring aesthetic experience out of the socially codified and emotionally neutralized spaces of galleries, museums, and public art spaces. The Trashures realize Art as an experience that is directly presented to anyone and everyone who walks by. The pieces are intended to confound passersby as to their meaning and possible purpose. Each person who passes must choose between trash and treasure, meaning and nothingness. The Trashsures aim to make people stop for a moment and re-address existence. They seek a re-mystification of life, one person at a time.

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Figure 1
Photograph of Duchamp
before the chess board,
by Catala Roca, 1968

Figure 2
Marcel Duchamp,
Fountain, 1917/64

I began the Trashsures as an attempt to find alternatives to the standard modes of artistic exhibition. I have always been frustrated by the manner in which Art is presented: as a luxury item, elite intellectual fodder, or a historic relic. I first began leaving artworks in the world as an absurdist gesture. Then, I realized that their interaction with people was interesting and perhaps profound. Although I continue to pursue standard modes of exhibition for my work, the Trashsures as become a continuous side-project. Internet pages from the series have been featured on a number of websites, and even reviewed on an art criticism site. I feel that if I were able to increase the scope and magnitude of this project, its overall cultural effects would grow exponentially.

For me the Trashsures is an attempt to take the Duchampian “Readymades aided”–and invert the final destination and the cultural expectation of assemblages, by returning these found object back into the larger cultural ocean of the everyday world. I see the Trashsures as an attempt to extrapolate the found object assemblage beyond the safe confines of the gallery or art space. I feel that the mere act of removing the filter of “Art” context creates an experience more in the sprit of Duchamp’s “Gnosticism”.

Conceptual Art has become a coda of style removed from it original goals of breaking down the scrim between art and life, matter and thought. Duchamp’s work has always represented an “end” in itself to me, as opposed to a “means”, something that makes the very practice of art making absurd.

For too long I would see him with a smirk on his face sitting in that big blue chair smoking his cigar with his Max Ernst Chess set in the foreground (Fig. 1), basically saying “it’s your move, kid” not
just to me but to all artist. For me the goal is to move outside of aesthetics, meaning, and content, to produce works that are beyond understanding, the place of these object outside of the art space, often times just a few meters from a gallery, forces people to engage with them, the double take, the stopped moment of confusion.

The Trashsures are the bastard grandchildren of the Fountain (Fig. 2), they are “Art”, but instead of being tasteful set in a ‘White cube,’ they are ‘Abandoned’ left to fend for themselves, in a world where everything has become “collectable”, where junk is outlaw. At it most base application the Trashsures are “pranks”, the joke is on any one that walks by. So here is my move, Duchamp teaches us to question everything, including questioning everything, Duchamp taught me that the artist is the serpent in the Garden.

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Jason Robert Bell, TrashuresProject Web Site, 2002~


Jason Robert Bell

Figs. 1, 2
© 2005 Succession Marcel Duchamp, ARS, N.Y./ADAGP, Paris. All rights reserved.

Snoop-Snoop Fate

This project begins an investigation of Marcel Duchamp and his relationship to the Woolworth building as a readymade.

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Figure 1
Marcel Duchamp,
a note from
À l’Infinitif, 1916/1967

Asked to create a project for our residency at the Woolworth building, we began to research Duchamp’s relationship to the building. We found only a note (Fig. 1) referring to the Woolworth building as a possible readymade. As we continued to explore the meaning of the note, we discovered Tout-Fait online and contacted Rhonda Shearer. Our initial conversation with her, about what a ready-made is or could be, was so intriguing that we interviewed her to learn about her relationship to Duchamp research and what led her to her current thinking on the origin of the ready-made. The discussion led us down a rabbit hole of excitement and wonder as we explored and began to assimilate more of Duchamp’s thinking, culminating in a four-part exhibition at the Woolworth building, riffing on Duchamp and the building.

Part One

We made a video (Fig. 2) in which we asked 52 artists to send us two seconds of tape. Then, using a random method, we edited together those 52 two-second pieces. For the audio track we used Rhonda Shearer’s voice from the interview we conducted. As an experimental piece, it is very successful because the audio and images are not in synch, yet the viewer moves between the two, trying to make an illustrative sequence or connection when in fact it is all random.

Part Two

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Figure 3
Elena Bajo

Figure 4
Jillian McDonald

Figure 5
Performance by Elena
Bajo and Jillian McDonald,

On one evening we hired four performance artists, including Elena Bajo (Fig. 3) and Jillian McDonald (Fig. 4), to create prankish performances, but we also were being prankish with them. These performers were not to be identified. The task of their performance was to alter their behavior so as to present themselves as someone slightly different than who they perceive themselves to be. The result is a nearly invisible performance that encourages everyone to question what is authentic in the gestures of person-to-person communication.

Of course this proved to be impossible, so we had to work with each person to create a performance uncharacteristic of himself or herself. For example,
a transvestite performer decided to perform in a suit, as a straight man. As he performed, it was so emotionally difficult for him that after a short time he angrily left. Another artist decided his performance would be to yawn in people’s faces even though he normally likes to chat people up. This performance was also too difficult for him; failing, he too left early. The two women performers did succeed (Fig. 5). One artist (Jillian Mcdonald) who normally gave props away to her audience—kept them instead. She walked around with a tray of chocolates talking to people and when they reached for one, she would say, “No, I’m not sharing,” eliciting reactions of surprise and sometimes horror. The other woman (Elena Bajo) came disguised as a wealthy dealer and found artists, trying to schmooze her, talking in ways she’s never heard!

Part Three and Four

The first two parts, the videotape and the performers, illustrate concepts related to Duchamp’s work. The second two parts are the diagrams of four-dimensional space, a hanging sculpture of hyper cube titled Terra Studiy #1 by Rhonda Roland Shearer, three watercolors on the wall (Fig. 6), and a website (Tout-Fait) for further reading. In part, this project reflects the role of math in the history of art. The diagrams and watercolors illustrate a favorite notion of Duchamp, that he hated “retinal art” and preferred the “non-retinal beauty of grey matter.” On the wall are three watercolors by Praxis (retinal) as well as a simple explanation of a four-dimensional object that can only be seen in the mind’s eye (non-retinal). An installation view can be seen in this short video. (Fig. 7)

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  • Figure 6
  • Figure 7
  • Installation view. Praxis, Watercolors, 2004(on the wall);
    Rhonda Roland Shearer, Terra Study #1, 1990(hanging sculpture)
  • Video clip of the installation view,Snoop-Snoop Fate (2004)


Figure 1 © 2005 Succession Marcel Duchamp, ARS, N.Y./ADAGP, Paris. All rights reserved.

Painting in Three Dimensions

Painting is dead. When I first came upon this statement, I embraced it as a challenge. Challenge and risk taking are what fosters the creative evolution. Painting is far from dead, but if it is to continue to be a vital component in the arts, if it is to continue to evolve, then painting must be taken to new dimensions. I have taken this as literally as possible in my three-dimensional relief paintings, the development of which are integrally connected to two-dimensional contour and illusionistic painting devices.

Relief has been a part of image making since humans began to make images, with examples found as early as the Paleolithic era. Traditionally it has been recognized as a form of sculpture, however the concept of relief is primarily pictorial because relief, like painting or drawing, is founded on the emergence of an image from a flat surface. Contemporary painters have made use of this attribute by utilizing modes of relief in their paintings, adding bulges or layered materials for actual depth. The inclusion of the third dimension by modern artists has led to new interpretations of relief in painting, relaxing the definition of relief as a purely sculptural term.

Expanding on this idea, I have developed a way to release painting from the physical frame. I have created a unique relief painting support made of polystyrene covered in a soft cotton ground. The individually constructed and shaped forms interconnect, somewhat like a relief puzzle. The connections create an implied line consistent with the edges of the shapes in the original two-dimensional contour design. Through saturated, layered color, the illusions used to create a sense of depth in two-dimensional painting are then used on the forms. These covered and painted forms are sometimes further enhanced through the application of flock to the surface. By being removed from a physical frame, these intings, no longer contained, are allowed to visually expand into space extending across walls as well as outward toward the viewer. The pieces created in this manner can be seen below or at www.isu.edu/art. Scroll down to the Davis Gallery and click on ‘Painting in Three Dimensions by Sarah Krank.

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Figure 1
Marcel Duchamp,
Nude Descending
a Staircase
No. 2, 1912

It seemed natural to offer this advancement to the Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (Fig. 1) by Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp’s Nude had been created to show the dynamic motion of a young lady as she descended the stairs, but the painting remained on a flat surface, the woman described in mostly hard, angular lines. I wanted to take the figure and allow her to emerge as a three-dimensional woman while keeping the intensity and power of her movements. I wanted to combine those hard, angular lines with the organic feel that Duchamp only suggests. To keep the feeling of the force of her body as she moved downward, I needed her to be big–nearly nine feet tall.

I named her Nude Redescending a Staircase (Fig.2). She begins at a physical distance, the forms in the upper left corner of the work extending only about an inch off the surface. Then, as she descends (or redescends) she gradually increases into the viewers space coming forward a full 22 inches. The oblique angles allow her to have an abstracted actual figure with illusions of light moving and playing across her form. Each individual piece is slightly rounded. Even the hardest edges have a gentleness about them thanks to the cotton ground.

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Figure 2

Sarah C. Krank, Nude Redescending a Staircase

I wanted to honor Duchamp’s design as well as the fury it created, so I stayed as true to his color choices as possible. I created a canvas back drop for the nude so that the golden and green hues could continue to stand out against the dark background. The relief pieces are attached to a wooden form cut to resemble the stairs in the original painting.
This is hung over the canvas and the paint on the back drop continues over this support. Last, additions of small pieces of old wooden shingles were added to the surface in homage to the suggestion that the Duchamp work looked like an explosion in a shingle factory.

The tradition of incorporating the knowledge of other artists by referencing their work in your own style is invaluable. Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending is an enduring landmark, a masterpiece. To have the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of this giant of the art world has enabled me to transcend the visual plane of this painting into three dimensions and begin to incorporate Duchamp’s geometry into my organic world.

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Figure 3

Sarah C. Krank, Constructed Relief Painting IV – Iris

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Figure 4

Sarah C. Krank, Constructed Relief Painting III – Nude

Figure 5
Sarah C. Krank, Constructed Relief Painting I – Montana


Fig(s). 1 ©2005 Succession Marcel Duchamp, ARS, N.Y./ADAGP, Paris. All rights reserved.

Lost Object-Found

Among the 1987 Centennial and Happy Birthday Marcel events in Philadelphia was a display of Duchamp’s works at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, many of which were ready-mades.

They were in the long gallery leading toward the Arensberg Collection. There were many interesting labels and citations to read. Near the 1916 Comb inscribed with the wonderfully cryptic message: “3 or 4 drops of height have nothing to do with savagery” was Duchamp’s proud comment about its durability: “During 48 years it has kept the characteristics of a true ready made; no beauty,
no ugliness, nothing particularly esthetic about it….”

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Figure 1
Label explaining
lost ready-made

As I continued my slow and thoughtful walk, reading as I went, I saw a little etching done in 1959 entitled Tire a quatre epingles [Pulled at 4 Corners] or “Dressed to the Nines.” The museum’s label mentioned that it was the title he’d given a chimney ventilator, a 1915 ready-made that was lost! (Fig. 1)

“Lost?” I said to myself; “I wonder if anyone is looking for it and if it can be found.” Upon arriving home, I decided to keep an eye open for it. I discussed it with a friend who thought he’d seen it in the corner of the restaurant kitchen where he was working as a pastry chef. I fumbled around in my attic and basement, thinking it just might turn up.

After checking the Yellow Pages under R, M, .D, and V, I decided that this was a long-term project and let it slip out of mind for a while, thinking that one day it would emerge on its own accord.

Several years later I stopped into Niece’s Lumberyard in Lambertville, NJ to buy some art supplies. In an almost Proustian moment of ecstatic memory, I realized that I had found the lost ready made! There it was . . . a wall ventilator, a perfect analog of a formal dress shirt, its pleats pressed and shiny white, ready to wear to a special event–pulled at four corners, dressed to the nines. (Figs. 2,
It even had a little lever allowing it to shift quietly like a kinetic sculpture.

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  • Figure 2
  • Figure 3
  • Wall ventilator
  • Wall ventilator

If I were to install it on my bedroom wall, it might qualify as a “disguised ready made.” If it were to be exhibited at a museum, perhaps it would be considered the first “forged ready made.”

Realizing that documentation is important, I enclose the receipt of its purchase as provenance– $5.44, 07/14/90. (Fig. 4)

Later I discovered that more than ten of the original ready mades had been lost, some of which were re-made in small editions by Arturo Schwarz and Ulf Linde.

However, there are some that remain a puzzle and an ongoing project for me. For example, when asked to design the installation of “First Papers of Surrealism” in 1942, (Fig. 5) Duchamp purchased 16 miles of string. He used only 1 mile of string for the show. What happened to the other 15 miles?

  • Figure 4
  • Figure 5
  • Receipt of the purchase
  • Marcel Duchamp, Installation
    for the exhibition of First Papers of Surrealism, 1942

Stretched out from mid-town Manhattan, it could measure a radius that would reach Paterson, NJ, Newark Airport, Coney Island, Kennedy Airport, and some point in Long Island Sound south of Norwalk, CT. If rolled into a ball, what would 15 miles of string look like?

What would its measurements be?

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Figure 6
Nura Petrov with
the strings

Some of the string can be found in my work. (Fig. 6) Skeins of it occur in Kyria Anthusa’s tangled loom, a construction of wooden branches that I made in 1995. Several yards of it, which I came upon in a ditch beside Bursonville Rd. c.1997, are hiding in a photo-copy collage from the same year. If you have any thoughts on this or other lost ready mades, drop me a line (or a standard stoppage) at my e-mail address: nurapetrov@conceptualist.com

(EDITOR’S NOTE: In regard to Duchamp’s “Pulled at Four Pins,” it is surprising that almost 50 years after the now lost original Readymade of 1915, Duchamp would have memorized its appearance as vividly as he did for the etching. For the catalogue of the1973/1974 exhibition “Marcel Duchamp: A Retrospective” (Philadelphia Museum of Art / Museum of Modern Art, NY) the American photographer Peter Hujar was assigned to take pictures of buildings in New York in which Duchamp had lived. While on Fire Island he also took several photographs of a chimney cowl similar to the one depicted in Duchamp’s etching. Such a chimney cowl was discovered and legally dismantled by ASRL intern Adam Kleinman in the summer of 2000 on a midtown-Manhattan rooftop. Together with an exhaustive collection of literature on both the variety and history of chimney cowls, the object is now part of the permanent collection at ASRL, NY. – Thomas Girst) (Figs. 7, 8)

  • Figure 7
  • Figure 8
  • Marcel Duchamp,Pulled at Four Pins, 1964
  • Chimney Cowl,ASRL/NY, ca. 1910’s


Fig(s). 5, 7©2005 Succession Marcel Duchamp, ARS, N.Y./ADAGP, Paris. All rights reserved.

Marcel’s Dream as told by Jacques Villon

When he was in grammar school Marcel had a dream, the same dream, over and over. He told me about it many times. He dreamt of a small pond in a meadow. It always smelled like rotting weeds. A ring of golden reeds grew up around the pond, hiding it. The reeds would sprout up, curve around, and head back into the earth. They wove themselves into a network of tunnels. In summer, in the dry season, the pond became a patch of mud. Two small pipes stuck out of the mud at odd angles. Marcel became fascinated by them. He longed to retrieve them. One day he took off his shoes and pushed up his pantlegs. He stepped into the pond, sank into the mud up to his knees, and made his way to the pipes. They were covered with dark slime. He knew there must be many more in graceful curves or square configurations in a network beneath the mud. When he pulled, they came out easily. He wiped them with his sleeve and saw they were made of brass. He fashioned them into a musical instrument of his own design. The pipes took several turns around his body before they headed toward the sky. When he blew into his horn, puckering his lips, it made a sound never heard before, different from any of the instruments in the brass band in town. And it was loud. Not loud enough for our mother to hear, because she couldn’t hear anything, she was deaf. Marcel spotted our mother and was surprised. She never came down to the meadow. It was wet, and the hem of her dress could get muddy. She had been looking for Marcel. She squinted, and the sun glinted off her eyes. She couldn’t hear Marcel’s new horn. But she could see Marcel playing it, an instrument of his own invention. She could see his cheeks puffed out and his face turning red. He had already decided; he would only play his own compositions, written in a musical notation that he had devised, and that only he could read.


Marcel Duchamp and the Transhuman

Reducing the degree of automaticity that is in operation as oneself requires the adopting of an anti-expressive stance. Watching our friend M. D. liberate himself to some degree from automaticity without ever actually escaping it, we realized once and then again what each of us had somehow known from early on: artists are free only within a limited set of parameters, and life, in the form it has constructed itself into in our era, will enslave even the most self-critical of artists. Managing to position objects to hold their own in relation
to that which ubiquitously happens along and even to redirect it, using very-adjusted and less-adjusted ready-made insertions into symbolizing power, an inchoate emanating-out ready-made in its own right, to convey and express enough and more than enough, M. D. changed the history of expression (read symbolizing) and redefined (artistic) purpose — two remarkable achievements. But it must be acknowledged that even critically sublime insertions meant to subdue expressivity and thus renegotiate the automaticity that rules our world will before long — for even a critical artist winds up expressing something within a context of expression, within an artworld — turn sentimental — all that which has cinematically blossomed forth will be in hardly any time at all found to have about it the cloying quality of an antique endless loop of seduction. Having conceived of infra-thin, a Western version of the concept of kehai, a colonized and colonizing air that would self-perpetuate, a hope-filled venturing toward a prolongation of that which is of interest, M. D. enters history as a precursor artist to the transhuman. As for our relation to the transhuman: Only after we had, in our decades-long research project, "The Mechanism of Meaning," stared down automaticity
(so as to open it up for reconfiguration) by diving right into symbolizing power (so as to note and provide on-the-spot elicitings of its component factors, leading tendencies, and modes of operation), did we come to see
that, to escape human bondage (We have decided not to die!), we would have to transform ourselves into artist-architects, on-the-loose interdisciplinary creatures we sometimes refer to as coordinologists. We lie to say that
M.D. asked us to build one of our transhuman houses for him, one whose design he wished to join in on. If death were really always only for others then you would find Duchamp today moving about within a tactically posed surround of his and our combined making.

Madeline Gins


Rrose Selections


Picture A: half-moon of parasols, moving
like a caterpillar on a branch, arc of S.
shoes emerge from underneath
they are the chain which connects the pearls…
the necklace wraps around, gracefully,
but when the woman bends over the pearls come undone.

Picture B: parallel lines of color
on a beach in the South of Portugal.
Drinks are served. Glances are cast.
Eyes close with the image before them in mind.
Eyes close but the parasols, those parasols,
blooms of summer, narrowed to darts
thorns in a hand that pulls down the night,
are still on the beach when she asks,
knowing what she’s seen, “Can we go?”
to which he replies, having only watched her,
“My love, whatever you wish.”


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Figure 1
Marcel Duchamp,
Female Fig Leaf, 1950

Figure 2
Marcel Duchamp, Given:
1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating
, 1946-66

Figure 3
Marcel Duchamp, Nude
Descending a Staircase
, No. 2, 1912

Female fig leaf Reveals a landscape, reclined Leaves and twigs about her legs A lantern in the distance Water running softly, continually.
I peer through the peep hole. It is dark where I am and bright where she is, Hundreds of miles from home. I forget where I am from, taken in by the slit which is open and which is the only face that is exposed. Like the mouth of an adult who is towering, talking her clitoris is all I want to look at.Hot breath on my shoulder reminds, It is time for another’s turn.

The blood of the city lights explodes onto a corner and covers a group of nine in uniforms they never imagined.Chatter ensues but the lady in stride crosses over[a line, infrathin]and is gone,leaving them exposed, barren in the corner of a city at night.On the building to one side,their shadows form spires but these men and one woman in front of the armory are bystanders only [in red]To them, the lady is naked. She is shame.She is the replaceable stair.


Figs. 1-3 ©2002 Succession Marcel Duchamp, ARS, N.Y./ADAGP, Paris. All rights reserved.

Elena del Rivero and Marcel Duchamp: Les Amoureuses

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Elena & Rrrose
Figure 1
Elena del Rivero,
Les Amoureuses: Elena & Rrrose
2001 (Photo: Kyle Brooks;
© Photo 1963:
Julian Wasser. All rights reserved)

In the end, West Coast photographer Julian Wasser gave in to her gentle pleading and allowed New York-based artist Elena del Rivero to use his famous photograph of Marcel Duchamp, depicting the artist at the opening of his first major solo-show at the Pasadena Museum of Art in 1963, playing chess with a nude Eve Babitz . The result of del Rivero’s appropriation is a Duraflex C-type print of 30 x 36 inches titled “Les Amoureuses, Elena & Rrrose” (2001) (Fig. 1). The artist, seated in front of a collage of a photocopied and enlarged version of Wasser’s original, seems to be seated opposite Duchamp, almost entirely covering the body of the nude appearing behind her on the picture. The artist, wearing a long, pleated dress of golden color (Elena del Rivero: “I wanted to be a princess!”) is stringing up pearls of which a rather arge amount is gathered in her lap. Concentrated as she is in her work, the artist
takes on the pose of a seamstress passing time through monotonous, almost meditative work – a theme often explored throughout del Rivero’s oeuvre.

click to enlarge
Elena del Rivero, Las Hilanderas
Figure 2
Elena del Rivero,
Las Hilanderas
(The Spinners)
, 2001
(Photo: Kyle Brooks;
© Photo 1963: Julian Wasser.
All rights reserved)
The Spinners
Figure 3
Diego Velázquez,
The Spinners, c. 1657

Between July 11–28, 2001, del Rivero concurrently presented the installation [Swi:t] Home at The Drawing Center’s Drawing Room in New York, and Las Hilanderas (The Spinners) (Fig. 2) at the Dieu Donné Papermill (DDP) just around the corner. As Mina Takahashi, the executive director of DDP wrote in an accompanying foldout, [Swi:t] Home tracked the daily life in del Rivero’s home/studio (1)
“by registering movement and activities on large sheets of paper which she placed on the floor throughout her space […] The 60 x 40-inch handmade abaca sheets were fabricated at Dieu Donné with a watermark bearing Elena’s full name in a circular logo.” For Las Hilanderas (The Spinners), del Rivero, employing the age-old technique of paper-thread making, explores through a tableaux vivant of Velázquez’ well-known painting of the same name (ca. 1657) (Fig.3) Ovid’s myth of Arachne and the goddess Athenae. The young Lydian girl Arachne dared to challenge Pallas Athenae to a contest to see who could weave the most brilliant tapestry. After several days, Athena finished first. Hers was a brilliant tapestry depicting the gods and goddesses of Olympus. At each corner of Athena’s design she illustrated the punishments given to mortals who attempted to defy the Olympians. Arachne, however, rafted her tapestry as a retort to Athena’s. It was a magnificent portrayal of of the higher reality as well. But on her tapestry Arachne wove into the design a scandalous story of the love affairs between the gods and mortal women, revealing the gods’ more human-like faults. This insult angered Athena and she lashed out at the girl in rage. Arachne, hurt and broken, opted for suicide over the torments of Athena and desperately tried to hang herself. But feeling guilty at the suffering she caused the poor girl, Athena changed Arachne into a spider, just moments before her suicide was accomplished. Arachne,transfigured as a spider, never moved, but forever dangled on one thin string from her web.

In her artist’s statement for [Swi:t] Home and Las Hilanderas (The Spinners) Elena del Rivero describes her work thus:

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Figure 4
Titian, The Rape
of Europa

“Like all the best discoveries, transforming the leftover paper from [Swi:t] Home was a chance event. The ‘spinning’ of thread has allowed me to establish relationships with other female artists who have collaborated with me on this project. From the moment that I called my first collaborator a spinner, the die was cast: Las Hilanderas (The Spinners) by Velázquez started to wriggle in my head. I remembered my visits to the Museo del Prado to investigate all the meanings attached to the master’s brushstrokes. I know that my interpretation differs from that of the great scholars: to
me, the oldest woman in the group is Arachne. It may also be unorthodox to refer to Duchamp in relation to the tapestry representing Titian’s Rape of Europa (Fig. 4) in Velázquez’s painting. I am not measuring myself against Duchamp; I am simply outlining a possible dialogue through difference, one that, I think, Luce Irigaray might approve of. More important is the fact that I have been able to invite my mother to ‘spin.’ The thread has been an excuse to engage in talking again about how time goes by.”

And finally, the following is an excerpt of Rita Gonzales’ essay “How to Feed and Sustain a Fragment,” published in the 64pp. catalogue At the Curve of the World (Santa Monica: Smart Art Press, 1999) that accompanied the group show of the same name which took place at Track 16 Gallery, Santa Monica, September 11–November 6, 1999.

click to enlarge
Elena del Rivero
Elena del Rivero

Elena del Rivero
Elena del Rivero
© Elena del Rivero
&video artist Nacho Pereez.
All rights reserved.
Figures 5-9
Elena del Rivero,
still images from A Reading, 1998
Elena del Rivero
Figure 10
Elena del Rivero, Opening Tom
, 1999
(Photo:Kyle Brooks)

To the show featuring works by woman artists Mariana Botey, E.V. Day and Diana Lopez, among others, Elena del Rivero contributed Echo of an Unfinished Letter, an intricate and layered record of the passage of time that takes the form of six hundred pages of musical notation paper imprinted with sound waves (the “echo”) produced by passing a needle and thread through paper. Visually stunning, Echo speaks – through its formal, emotional and performative power – of the hidden, devotional aspect of longing and creation.

The accompanying pictures (Figs. 5-9) are film stills from A Reading, showing Elena del Rivero with her Tarot teacher, a performance that took place during her Unfinished Letter exhibition at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, 1998. The last photo showing del Rivero with Man Ray’s chess board is called “Opening Tom Patchett” (Fig. 10). She explains [in an e-mail to Tout-Fait of 13 August 2001: “He is a collector from LA and I was having a show at his space Track 16 [see above] and stayed at his place. Going into his bedroom I saw the chessboard by Man Ray in the edition of 1943.

Rita Gonzales writes:

“Elena del Rivero’s work seeks correspondence with an invisible audience sometimes figured as an absent mother, lover, or friend, and in the case of her recent video installation A Reading with the infamous image of Marcel Duchamp playing chess with a young nude woman. According to accounts in Bonnie Clearwater’s West Coast Duchamp (2) , no individual party (including Duchamp himself) took credit for the staging of this event at his Pasadena Art Museum retrospective exhibition in 1963. Dickran Tashjian has revealed that the woman in question, Eve Babitz, was in fact the grandaughter of modernist composer Igor Stravinsky. Tashjian intuits that her naked presence may have brought to Duchamp’s mind (among other things) a historical moment of rupture at which he was present–the first performance of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring before a decidedly disturbed audience. Unlike del Rivero, critics of Duchamp have tended to shy away from this image, perhaps imagining that the event was a cheap publicity ploy (even though Duchamp himself held a strong fondness for it).

In her discussion of the ‘en-gendering’ of Duchamp’s work, art historian Amelia Jones represents the Pasadena chess game as a moment of frustration for those who believe they know everything about Duchamp. In this closed circuit of frustrated narrative and through other moments in his public address and writings, Jones finds her Duchamp articulated through his contradictions and discursive elisions.

He is not ‘simply’ modern or postmodern, authoritative or anti-authoritative, regressive or progressive, masculine (virile, original subject) or feminine (seductive object), heterosexual (paternal and generative) or homosexual (coquettish camp idol), but particularly llustrates the contingency of each of these terms on its supposed opposite. (3)

“These contingencies are perhaps what drew del Rivero to the infamous image of seduction and sublimation. She, like Jones, searches for a throughway to access the document and to play out her own critique of the en-gendering of art production. While in Spain for art exhibition of her massive series Unfinished Letter (1998), del Rivero staged a private performance, the end result of which was A reading (1998):

‘I asked the museum director [at the Reina Sofia in Madrid] if I could have the rooms closed for two hours. I had previously asked my tarot reader, whom I had not seen for seven years, if she could come to the Reina, read the tarot for me there, and be recorded. She accepted. I had two camera-people ready on that day, a candle, and a glass ball. The cameramen thought it looked OK. I had fetched a small table and two simple chairs. They were placed in the middle of the room, very much after the Duchamp photo. The séance started. It was recorded in actual time. It lasted thirty-four minutes….’(4)

“The final edited version of the video intermixes elements from an audio art piece entitled String Quartet (1998-99), the sound of which was captured during the embroidery of the six hundred sheets that make up del Rivero’s series Unfinished Letter. As String Quartet blurs and obscures the revelations of that tarot reader, the enigmas of the artist are preserved, echoing with humor the staging of the Duchamp photograph. It is the very difference between tarot and the chess game that del Rivero uses to address the contradictions in the philosophies and oeuvre of Duchamp and their subsequent effect on the readings and inscriptions of his work. A Reading draws on the ambiguity of Duchamp’s notions of art production as they shifted between ‘mysticism and the games,’ a phrase drawn from Duchamp’s own contradictory statements about art production as being pure sensation to associating art with pure concept. ‘I do believe in the mediumistic role of the artist,” said Duchamp at a Philadelphia Museum College of Art panel in 1961. A Reading allows del Rivero to inhabit the photograph and disturb the sense of disclosure and culpability felt by those who approach both the historical document and her own serial work looking for confessions. As Maria-Josep Balsach has so eloquently said of del Rivero’s work: “Perhaps it is an inverted movement–or a projection–of what has been the innate objective of twentieth-century art: To dislodge utopia and ostentatiously occupy the essence of the confronting and self-confronting ego, arising from the most intimate, dark, abominable recesses.’(5)


Footnote Return 1.Through the attacks of September 11, 2001, the home/studio of Elena del Rivero and her partner Kyle Brooks was destroyed. Luckily, both were unharmed. With the apartment located on Cedar Street, in the immediate vicinity of what came to be known as Ground Zero, they lost most of their work and documents.

Footnote Return 2.Dickran Tashjian, “Nothing Left to Chance: Duchamp’s First Retrospective,” in West Coast Duchamp, ed. Bonnie Clearwater (Miami Beach: Grassfield Press, 1993) 61-83.

Footnote Return 3. Amelia Jones, Postmodernism and the En-Gendering of Marcel Duchamp (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1994) 106.

Footnote Return 4.”Echo of an Unfinished Letter through a Reading of Tarot,” unpublished artist statement.

Footnote Return 5.Elena del Rivero: Cortas (Burgos, Spain: Espacio Caja de Burgos, 1997)7.

The Wicked and Unfaithful Song Of Marcel Duchamp To His Queen

click to enlarge

Figure 1
Marcel Duchamp, The Bride
Stripped Bare by Her
Bachelors, Even
, 1915-23

A weighted soul who believed in the purity and vitality of poetry,the poet Paul Carroll inherited from Dada and Surrealisman undisguised passion and iconoclasm.”The Wicked and Unfaithful Song of Marcel Duchamp to His Queen”of 1961 seems to resonate with a consequential reading of postmodern thought–“meaning” is literally a mere perception residing in the human mind … perhaps nothing more, and the presence of Duchamp’s posthumously revealed
Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas (1946-66),by musing on “Death” as “the only good joke.” In 1979, composer John Austin conducted a vocal piece based on the very same poem. Tout-Fait is delighted to present the juxtaposition of text, sound, and visual images
in order to induce an enchanted experience of various dimensions in simultaneity.

– Compiled by Ya Ling Chen


click to enlarge

Figure 2
Marcel Duchamp,Dust Breeding,1920,
from the Green Boxof 1934

Figure 3
Marcel Duchamp,Cemetery of Uniforms
and Liveries, No. 2
, 1914

Figure 4
Photograph of Duchamp’s studio,

Figure 5
Photograph of
Duchamp’sUnhappy Readymade (1919) taken
by Jean Grotti or Suzanne Duchamp Grotti, 1920

A trifle pompously, your move, my love, among the mass of nerve- tissues in my cranium;and as you move you have become the last of my inconsequential ironies. At best,chess too just a question of pure chance.Films of dust girdle your body: for once

I shift you on the chess board, sweet, you will become a solution for which there never was a problem:that old itch for order which we like to hint exists in what we do. And yet, that blueprint I fashioned once for the motions of the body ended nice-ly in a cemetery

of empty uniforms: priest and bus-boy, butler, gendarme,undertaker, horseman—jointless.Art? A form of intimate hygiene for the ghosts we really are. More work, those wolftraps for the intellect (one must always work, sweet, to contradict one’s taste)— the hanger tack-

ed upright to the floor; that urinal I signed: R. Mutt; and that geometry textbook I tied to dangle in diagonal at a corner of my porch until, buffeted by raw winds, bleach—
ed by sun & sleets, it got the facts of life; or those glass discs twirling on the phonograph

to tease the ear and eye. How predictable poor Picabia became! And such a fool to bitch all day and thrash about and sob how slovenly God goes about his job. I’ll let you sit,
sweet, and move the Rook instead. Why not? Death is the only good joke.

A drawing by John Austin (1979)

The Wicked and Unfaithful Song Of Marcel Duchamp To His Queen(1979)

John Austin
Diane Ragains, Soprano
Robert Morgan, Oboe/English
Horn Michael Gamburg, Bassoon



* Special
thanks to Maryrose Carroll and Luke Carroll for authorizing Tout-Fait to publish this poem.

©2002 Succession Marcel Duchamp, ARS, N.Y./ADAGP, Paris.All rights reserved.

Nude Descending Again

click to enlarge
Rrose Sélavy
Figure 1
Marcel Duchamp, Rrose Sélavy,
photograph by Man Ray, 1921

Duchamp, the anti-artist, has always fascinated me to the point of envy. His irreverent behavior and ground-breaking ideas were so engaging that they force me to rethink my work and its purpose. His work is humorous to the passerby yet far more intelligent than any work of its time. The idea, rather than the product, was his focus. He was the greatest, laziest person ever.

Instead of creating a sculpture of a woman he became one (Rrose Sélavy). Instead of creating something that looked like a urinal he used an actual one. Instead of cleaning the dust off the glass he and Man Ray just took a photo of it.

I am a painter by training but I feel it takes too long to paint a good painting. So I began to experiment with my work by turning photography into painting. I feel as though I have found a new window of photography that has not been explored and treated as I have been doing. I have never seen results like that which I have been producing. I shoot in complete darkness with an open shutter and compose these paintings with light.

With this photograph, in particular, I wanted to recreate Duchamp’s famous yet “absurd” take off on Futurism and Cubism. This photograph and my work in general have received much of the same criticism that his painting did.

click images to enlarge

  • Nude Descending
  • Nude Descending Again
  • Figure 2
  • Figure 3
  • Marcel Duchamp,
    Nude Descending a Staircase,
    No. 2
    , 1912
  • William Richard Hundley,
    Nude Descending Again, 2001

This shot is one of 20 negatives attempting the Nude. I have plans to use all the images in one frame in the form of a lenticular (3-D) print. As the viewer walks across the frame the images shift from one to another.

I currently reside in Austin, TX and collaborate with a friend on more painting-based photographic work. Our recent body of work has taken influence from the paintings of Francis Bacon. We call ourselves the Industry of Light and our new body of work is titled “Innocent X.”

Please view it online at www.williamhundley.com

William Richard Hundley Industry of Light

Figs. 1, 2
©2002 Succession Marcel Duchamp, ARS, N.Y./ADAGP, Paris. All rights reserved.

Transformation and Tradition: Interview with Sanford Biggers

click images to enlarge

Four images from: Sanford Biggers, Duchamp in the Congo (Suburban Invasion), Performance 1999 Photo: Art Meyers

Dressed in a suit and tie, Sanford Biggers entered a Chicago diner teeming with businesspeople. Briefcases in hand, they exchanged small talk and serious nods. Biggers clung to his own briefcase while slowly taking a seat, alone, at the counter to order breakfast. At their tables, diners drank coffee and held open newspapers. But between crisp folds and shuffles of the news in front of them, they noticed a very different text at Biggers’ side. Biggers, perhaps unbeknownst to his audience, was performing Duchamp in the Congo (Suburban Invasion) , his latest performance. His “newspaper” was Hangman’s House , the first of two artworks created for the performance. Hangman’s House is an old, fraying hardcover book entitled Hangman’s House , through which Biggers drove nails and sharp objects to puncture the cover and pages inside.

Biggers, 31, is an artist who now resides in New York City after living in other American and international cities. In a rare confluence, he applies Dadaist techniques to reconsider objects of power, cultural signatures, and African traditions. To objects of contemporary familiarity, Biggers adds symbolic and traditional elements, some mundane and others seemingly misplaced, to forge postmodern tributes to the African roots of modernism.

As Biggers carried Hangman’s House while performing Duchamp in the Congo (Suburban Invasion), the only words legible were those of the book title. When he exhibits the book outside the context of his performance, he uses a bookstand which spreads the covers open to reveal the entire piece. The piece rests on a transparent surface and a mirror underneath the book reveals some cover text on the underside.

The second piece Biggers created for the performance shares the title of the performance, Duchamp in the Congo. A wheel sits on the inside of a block of wood, pushing through its surface. Leather straps, twine, rope, and various fibers tightly tie the wheel to the block of wood. This construction is Biggers’ briefcase– the wheel extends from the block to form a handle.

click to enlarge

Figure 1
Hangman’s HouseUnited States: New York:
Century, 1926 and United Kingdom: London:
Sampson Low, Marston, 1926)
The book, now out of print, is a story by
Donn Byrne about an Irish judge who sentences
several people to a hanging death and urges his
daughter against her will to marry a man who
becomes the target of an avenger. The story
was made into a movie directed by John Ford in 1928.

The form of Duchamp in the Congo draws on traditional African rituals, specifically those involving the captivity of spirits and their power ( minkisi ) into objects. Nail figures (or nkisi n’kondi), were traditionally carved by indigenous people within the Congo in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and symbolize a ritual of collective oath-taking in which participants drive nails or sharp iron pegs into an object of power to symbolize their agreement and compliance with community codes, customs, and mores. Each stake remains where driven, and each individual’s penetration into the object qualifies their commitment while further activating the power of the figure to guard and secure the community.

To frame his performance, Biggers imagined what Marcel Duchamp would have created having traveled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He depicts a fictitious trip that Duchamp took to study African works of art and then create an nkisi-influenced or nail-inundated wheel.

Biggers explained that after he created the two pieces for Duchamp in the Congo (Suburban Invasion) , the next step was his execution of a ritual. He chose to perform a present-day activity to echo traditional rituals of collective oath-taking: dressed as a businessman he enacted a typical commute to work, and displayed Duchamp in the Congo and Hangman’s House by carrying the two through the streets of Chicago during rush hour.

For a commuting suburban audience, Biggers clings to his own spiky “briefcase” while reading Hangman’s House, with its sprouting nails, as his newspaper. Carrying his artworks as he would everyday objects in familiar ways down busy streets, he reads his paper as if curious to learn something new. By imitating the form of a daily trip to work while contradicting it with the content of the objects he holds, he draws his audience directly to his art. Biggers challenges commuters to glance beyond their everyday concerns and the certainty of their paths to examine the symbols of the collective oath they take to perceive, inquire, and behave as they do everyday.

Beyond a Dadaist appeal to more closely examine commonly perceived truths, Duchamp in the Congo (Suburban Invasion) revives other salient themes introduced by modernists in the early and mid nineteenth century. By performing during rush hour, Biggers blurs the boundaries between art and everyday life and engages the public in a live dialogue. By adopting African rituals, he makes the inspiration of non-industrialized, non-Western cultures and values on modernism explicit. He revisits a time when artists typically looked at traditions from Africa, Asia, and the pre-Columbian Americas to define modernism and he continues in the current era where they left off. Each piece made for the performance is a retrospective of modern art from the post-modern perspective. The wheel included in Duchamp in the Congo serves as a reference to Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel (Fig. 2).

click images to enlarge

  • Figure 2
    The Bicycle Wheel, 1913, is Duchamp’s first “Readymade”
    While it has been “lost,” scholars have found at least 5
    photos of it in his New York studio. The irregular leg
    positions of the stools and the tilt of the wheel and
    fork were never (one could argue) in equilibrium. In fact,
    Duchamp would have had to glue the stools into their
    irregular shapes, and tie string to support the five
    bicycle wheels and stools, in order to permit
    them even to stand, let alone spin.
  • Figure 3
    Nkisi n’kondi, 19th century

As Biggers explained it to me, “before a ceremony, ritual or some celebratory act that the whole community is involved in, people walk by the sculpture or image and pound nails, shards of glass, and sharp or reflective objects into the piece. The piece becomes a power object not only by the veneration that this group of people put on the piece, but the physical activity of pounding and hammering into the piece. Later, the piece itself acts almost as a type of scarecrow to ward off enemies, evil spirits and others who may harm the group. So in the case of the Hangman’s House, I used that as an aesthetic metaphor for banishing the history of America, being the Hangman’s House, the house of so much lynching. In terms of Duchamp in the Congo , I was using the nails to go against the notion of modernism and primitivism, so in this case instead of warding off physical spirits or enemies, there is a warding off in the psychological or philosophical sense of erroneous notions and traces of modernism, primitivism, and post-modernism.”

In the photographs of Biggers on a train during the performance, people look at him inquisitively. He recalls standing on a corner in downtown Chicago where another man behind him, briefcase and newspaper in hand, gives him incredulous looks as if to confront him. But this type of response reveals the larger confrontation at work by Biggers. As he elaborated, “I follow the idea of keeping the form as one of the most important elements but also feel strongly about challenging prescribed notions in art theory. The fact that I am the creator or author of these pieces also adds to how these pieces are interpreted by art theory. In that respect, I think it follows that Duchamp’s Dada approach is to juxtapose objects and concepts with the norm.”

click to enlarge

Figure 4
Mandala of the B-Bodhisattva II
Sanford Biggers and David Ellis, 2000

Figure 5
Mandala of the B-Bodhisattva I
Sanford Biggers, 1999

Figure 6
Disks Bearing Spirals
Marcel Duchamp, 1923

Biggers collaborated with another artist, David Ellis, for a break dancing mat project, Mandala of the B-Bodhisattva II , 2000. Ellis focused on preserving the idea of Duchamp’s Rotoreliefs of 1935, six double-sided optical disks made after prior experiments with optics such as Disks Bearing Spirals of 1923 or Rotary Demisphere (Precision Optics) of 1925. Each one of the Rotoreliefs bears a spiral, eccentric-circle, or similar design. When placed on a record player or other spinning circle, the Rotoreliefs create an optical illusion of depth, intensified when looking with one eye rather than two. I asked Biggers about connections between the mats and the Dadaist celebration of mechanical methods apparent in the Rotoreliefs.

Biggers replied, “my approach had to do more with the Mandala, so there was an overlap there in terms of the circle-based art form, but for me the Rotorelief was not used as literally as in Ellis’ work. However, the motive was to use the concept on a more geometrical level with the juxtaposition of circles as well as other geometries to create the illusion of movement. To enhance this effect, the dancers create the movement as opposed to a turntable’s rotation.”

He continues, “One reason we worked on this project was my fascination with the Mandala and Ellis’ fascination with the Rotorelief for shared conceptual and aesthetic reasons. We have both been DJs and are deeply into preserving hip hop culture. For us it was the idea of spinning and turning more importantly than the Mandala or the Rotorelief, but these were ways for us to deal with the idea of the spin–the backspin, the spin of a skateboard wheel, or the spin of the turntable–and finding a graphic representation of that idea. The spin is also important in that it goes back to several traditions–whirling dervishes and other dancers going into trance, in Yoruba and Vodoun ceremonies. This reminds me of an interesting fact about the Mandala–sometimes monks don’t actually draw or depict the Mandala, but they remember the patterns and then dance and jump in circles to form it with their own motions. We know the trace and graphic depiction of the Mandala and the Rotorelief, but I thought it was interesting to explore how to experience or create the sense of movement as the actual depiction.”

click images to enlarge

Rotary Demisphere (Precision Optics)
Marcel Duchamp, 1925

Biggers recommends They Came Before Columbus for this issue’s Bookstore section. Upon hearing this suggestion, I mention a review of the PS1 show at New York City’s Clocktower Gallery last year. One of the artists, David Godbold, did a cynical piece about the Mayflower, using a comic-like motif against a traditional piece. His installation, entitled America[s] Disclosed 2000 , is a wall painting that presents the initial discovery of America by the Europeans as erroneous. Biggers comments that Godbold’s piece “looks at colonialism, dispelling the belief of Manifest destiny, the grand romanticism of colonialism and the current reality of post-colonialism both here in America and Cuba as well as the relationships between sovereign and colonial nations and the people that they colonize. My work touches on the colonial and post-colonial history of the African Diaspora, however, I use Africa more as a metaphor for African America, and not the other way around. It also relates to what we mentioned of art theory and that being a type of colonial mentality.”

For my last question, I inquire about any connections between Duchamp’s concept of a ready-made item and items found in Biggers’ work. I wondered specifically about Biggers’ appropriation of objects to explore issues of class and race. Biggers replies that although he was trained as a painter, he began to take more interest in making three-dimensional objects. He describes that one of the things drawing him to this decision was the realization that objects found on the street, often marked by a particular type of use and treatment and grouped with other objects, often already said what he intended to create. “It isn’t about depicting–it’s about seeing authenticity right in front of you.” Biggers elaborates,”‘Use patina,’ the way the paint falls off, the way a chair is rubbed on the arms because someone kept sitting in the chair in the same way over time, molding the chair itself– it serves as a quiet tribute to history. Different areas where I would find materials, like a poor neighborhood in Baltimore versus an upper class neighborhood in Japan, said different things. I started to find out what areas had different items to collect. I could find a piano for example, in one part of town, where somebody might just throw that kind of thing out. A physical mapping of various cities began to emerge based on the artifacts I found in certain neighborhoods. I have used this approach in several countries and it gave me an “in” to the social geography of any given region. I was originally drawn to objects that were used by individuals and later become interested in mass produced materials that were used by many people. For example, the color tiles that are used in the Mandalas are the same tiles used on the subway and bus floor of Brooklyn, Harlem, and most of Inner-City U.S.A.”

In his work, Biggers provides us with the synthesis of the mundane and the extraordinary, historical testimony and present-day realism, tradition and transformation.

click images to enlarge

Sanford Biggers, Hangman’s
, 1999

Fig(s). 2, 6, 7
©2005 Succession Marcel Duchamp, ARS, N.Y./ADAGP, Paris. All rights reserved.

Memoirs: Art & Art History

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 with them.

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″)


The 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.


The background 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. 1921.

Text around 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.

Duchamp, 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″)


The background 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.


The background 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.

Multiple 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.)

The background image is a painted copy of Man Ray’s Night SunAbandoned 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, 1948

Right 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 left.)

The background 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.

Marcel Duchamp et la littérature

Nullement complète et, sur plus d’un plan, éminemment perfectible, cette bibliographie vise néanmoins à offrir un premier rassemblement de noms d’écrivains et de titres d’oeuvres littéraires qui sont en rapport direct ou indirect, les uns et les autres, avec l’oeuvre ou la personne de Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968).

Afin de bien voir arriver les choses, dans chacune des quatre sections, les entrées sont classées chronologiquement. Si le livre est repris ou directement publié en édition de poche (coll. ” Le livre de poche “, coll. ” 10 / 18 “, coll. ” J’ai lu “, coll. ” Poésie / Gallimard “, coll. ” Folio “, coll. ” L’imaginaire “, coll. ” Babel “), cela est indiqué. Si le livre est traduit en totalité ou en partie en anglais ou en français, cela est également indiqué.

Les quatre sections sont les suivantes:
1. Ceux qui ont publié
a. au moins un livre, un chapitre de livre ou un article sur Marcel Duchamp ou une entrevue de lui (dans tous les cas, la date de publication est entre [ ] avant le nom);
b. au moins une oeuvre littéraire (roman, recueil de nouvelles, recueil de poèmes, pièce);
2. Those who have published a literary work (novel, short story, play, etc.) which was “inspired” or “partially inspired” by the work of Marcel Duchamp or Duchamp himself.
3. Ceux qui ont publié une oeuvre littéraire (roman, nouvelle, poème, etc.) ” en hommage ” ou partiellement ” en hommage ” à la personne ou à l’oeuvre de Marcel Duchamp;
4. Oeuvres littéraires ” illustrées ” par Marcel Duchamp, seul ou en collaboration, ou par Marcel Duchamp et un autre artiste.

La reconnaissance d’une oeuvre, puis de quelques oeuvres, puis de ce qu’il est convenu d’appeler l’oeuvre de Marcel Duchamp commençant vraiment en 1913 – reconnaissance américaine côté public (Armory Show, 1913), reconnaissance française côté critique (Apollinaire, 1913) -, il semble bien qu’elle se soit plus développée du côté anglophone, même si les rapports entre l’art et la littérature, comme on le constatera, auront été nettement plus constants, voire consistants, du côté francophone. Nulle relation de cause à effet, ici, mais un simple constat: bien des gens qui ont écrit ou écriront sur Marcel Duchamp ont écrit ou écriront aussi (en français le plus souvent) des textes littéraires.

André Gervais Janvier 2000


1. Ceux qui ont publié
a. aau moins un livre, un chapitre de livre ou un article sur Marcel Duchamp ou une entrevue de lui (dans tous les cas, la date de publication est entre [ ] avant le nom);
b. au moins une oeuvre littéraire (roman, recueil de nouvelles, recueil de poèmes, pièce)

N.B. Pour les écrivains qui ont publié un grand nombre d’oeuvres littéraires, nous ne donnons qu’un choix volontairement limité à 4 titres.

[1913, Chapter] Guillaume Apollinaire, pseud. de Wilhem Apollinaire de Kostrowitzky (1880-1918)

  • L’enchanteur pourrissant [récit en prose entrecoupé de poèmes]. avec 10 bois d’André Derain, Paris, Henry Kahnweiler éditeur, 1909.
  • Alcools, poèmes 1898-1913, avec un portrait par Pablo Picasso, Paris, Mercure de France, 1913; Paris, Gallimard, coll. ” Poésie / Gallimard “; Alcools. translated by Anne Hyde Greet, with a foreword by Warren Ramsey, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1965; Alcools, translated by Donald Revell, Hanover, University Press of New England for Wesleyan University Press, 1995.
  • Le poète assassiné, contes, avec un portrait par André Rouveyre, Paris, Bibliothèque des curieux, 1916; Paris, Gallimard, coll. “Poésie / Gallimard”; The Poet Assassinated, translated with a biographical notice and notes by Matthew Josephson, New York, The Broom Pub. Co., 1923; The Poet Assassinated, translated by Ron Padgett, illustrated by Jim Dine, New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968.
  • Calligrammes, poèmes de la paix et de la guerre 1913-1916, avec un portrait par Pablo Picasso, Paris, Mercure de France, 1918; Paris, Gallimard, coll. “Poésie / Gallimard “;Calligrammes, poems of peace and war (1913-1916), translated by Anne Hyde Greet, with an introduction by S. I. Lockerbie and commentary by Anne Hyde Greet and S. I. Lockerbie, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1980.

[1917, Article-entrevue] Mina Loy, pseud. de Mina Lowy (1882-1966)

  • Lunar Baedecker [sic], Paris, Contact Publishing Company, 1923; Lunar Baedeker & Time-tables. Highlands, NC: Jonathan Williams, 1958; The Last Lunar Baedeker, edited and introduced by Roger L. Conover, Highlands, The Jargon Society, 1982; The Lost Lunar Baedeker, definitive edition, edited and introduced by Roger L. Conover, New York, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1996.

[1917, Article]Louise Varèse, née Louise McCutcheon (1890-1988)

  • St.-John Perse. Éloges, and other poems, French text with English translation by Louise Varèse and introduction by Archibald MacLeish, New York, W.W. Norton & Co, 1944.
  • Charles Baudelaire. Paris Spleen, translated by Louise Varèse, New York, New Directions, 1947.
  • Marcel Proust. Pleasures and Regrets, translated by Louise Varèse, with a preface by Anatole France, New York, Crown Publishers, 1948.
  • Varèse: A Looking-Glass Diary, Volume 1, 1883-1928; New York, W.W. Norton & Co, 1972.

[1922, Article] André Breton (1896-1966)

  • Nadja [1928], [récit], édition entièrement revue par l’auteur, Paris, Gallimard, 1963; coll. “Folio”; Nadja, translated by Richard Howard, New York, Grove Press, and London, Evergreen Books, Ltd., 1960.
  • Arcane 17 [1944, avec 4 lames de tarot en couleurs par Matta] enté d’Ajours, avec 3 eaux-fortes par Baskine, Paris, Éd. du Sagittaire, 1947; coll. “10 / 18 “; Arcanum 17 : With Apertures : Grafted to the End,tTranslated by Zack Rogow and with an introduction by Anna Balakian, Toronto: Coach House Press, 1994.
  • Clair de terre(1) , poèmes, préface d’Alain Jouffroy, Paris, Gallimard, coll. ” Poésie / Gallimard “, 1966.
  • Signe ascendant(2) , poèmes, Paris, Gallimard, coll. ” Poésie / Gallimard “, 1966.

[1924, Preface] Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)

  • Geography and Plays, Boston, The Four Seas Company, 1922.
  • The Making of Americans, Being a History of a Family’s Progress , novel, Paris, Contact Editions, 1925; Américains d’Amérique, histoire d’une famille américaine, traduction de la baronne J. Seillère et de Bernard Faÿ, Paris, Stock, Delamain et Boutelleau, 1933.
  • The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, London, John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1933;Autobiographie d’Alice Toklas, traduction de Bernard Faÿ, Paris, Gallimard, 1934.
  • Everybody’s Autobiography, New York, Random House, 1937; Autobiographies, traduction de la baronne d’Aiguy [May Tagnard], Paris, Éd. Confluences, 1945.

[1924, Book]

  • Pierre de Massot (1900-1969)
  • Prolégomènes à une éthique sans métaphysique ou Billy, bull-dog et philosophe [essay]. Paris: Éditions de la Montagne, 1930.
  • Mon corps, ce doux démon [written 1932] [autobiography]. Letter-preface by André Gide, with an engraved portrait by Jacques Villon, s.l.n.d. [Alès: PAB, 1959].
  • Le mystère des maux [poems]. With a drawing by Francis Picabia. Paris: hors commerce [Imprimerie René Martinet et Cie], 1961.(3)
  • Le déserteur. Oeuvre poétique 1923-1969, texts collected and presented by Gérard Pfister, Paris, Arfuyen, 1992.(4)

[1936, article] Michel Leiris

  • L’âge d’homme [écrit en 1930-1935, publié en 1939], précédé de De la littérature considérée comme une tauromachie [1946], [première autobiographie], Paris, Gallimard, 1946; Paris, Gallimard, coll. “Folio”; Manhood : a journey from childhood into the fierce order of virility, preceded by The autobiographer as torero, translated by Richard Howard, New York, Grossman Publishers, 1963.
  • La règle du jeu. Tome I: Biffures, Tome II: Fourbis, Tome III: Fibrilles et Tome IV: Frêle bruit, [seconde autobiographie], Paris, Gallimard, respectivement 1948, 1955, 1966 et 1976: les 4 tomes, coll. “L’imaginaire”; Rules of the game : Scratches [Biffures], translated by Lydia Davis, New York, Paragon House, 1991 [Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University, 1997]; Scraps [Fourbis], translated by Lydia Davis, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University, 1997.
  • Mots sans mémoire (5), [poésie], Paris, Gallimard, 1969.
  • Journal 1922-1989, édition établie, présentée et annotée par Jean Jamin, Paris, Gallimard, 1992.

[1937, article] Roger Caillois (1913-1978)

  • Art poétique, Paris, Gallimard, 1958.
  • Esthétique généralisée, Paris, Gallimard, 1962.
  • Pierres, Paris, Gallimard, 1966.
  • Obliques [1967] précédé de Images, images… [1966], Paris, Gallimard, coll. ” Le monde ouvert “, 1974.

[1938, article-entrevue; 1959, livre] Robert Lebel (1901-1986)

  • Masque à lame, illustré par Isabelle Waldberg, New York, Éd. Hémisphères, 1943.
  • L’oiseau caramel,, illustré par Max Ernst, Paris, le Soleil noir, 1969.
  • Traité des passions par personne interposée, Paris, Losfeld, 1972.
  • La Saint-Charlemagne, illustré par Max Ernst, Paris, le Soleil noir, 1976.

[1945, article] Man Ray, pseud. d’Emmanuel Radnitsky (1890-1976)

  • Self portrait [commencé en 1951, publié en 1963], [autobiographie], foreword by Merry A. Foresta, afterword by Juliet Man Ray, Boston, Little, Brown & Co. and the New York Graphic Society, 1988; trad. fr. d’Anne Guérin, Paris, Laffont, 1964; Arles, Actes Sud, coll. ” Babel “.
  • Ce que je suis et autres textes, présentation de Vincent Lavoie, Paris, Hoëbeke, coll. “Arts & esthétique”, 1998.

[1945, article] Nicolas Calas (ou Nikolas Kalas), pseud. de Nikos Kalamares (1907-…)

  • Odos Niketa Randou [Rue Nikita Randou], poèmes, Athènes, Ikaros, 1977.

[1949, article] Gaston Puel (1924-)

  • Paysage nuptial, frontispice de Hans Bellmer, Paris, GLM, 1947.
  • La jamais rencontrée, frontispice de Max Ernst, Paris, Seghers, 1950.
  • Ce chant entre deux astres, collage de Jean Arp en double frontispice, Lyon, Henneuse éd., 1956.
  • Le cinquième château, avec deux bois originaux de Raoul Ubac, Veilhes, la Fenêtre ardente, 1965.

[1950, article; 1974, livre] Jean Suquet (1928-)

  • Jamais rien ni personne, roman, augmenté d’une gravure effacée par le temps, Paris, le Parler de la lune aphasique, 1958.
  • Une chimie greffée de chimères, Paris, le Parler de la lune aphasique, 1972.
  • Oubli sablier intarissable(6), n° spécial de la revue Liard, Bordeaux, 1996.

[1952, article; 1954, chapitre] Michel Carrouges, pseud. de Louis Couturier (1910-1988)

  • Les portes dauphines, roman, Paris, Gallimard, 1954.
  • Les grands-pères prodiges, roman, Paris, Plon, 1957.

[1953, article] Henri Pierre Roché (1879-1959)

  • Jean Roc, pseud. d’Henri Pierre Roché, Don Juan et…, [récit], Paris, Éd. de la Sirène, 1921; Marseille, André Dimanche Éditeur, 1993.
  • Jules et Jim, roman, Paris, Gallimard, 1953; coll. ” Folio “; Jules and Jim, translated by Patrick Evans, London and Boston, M. Boyars, 1963.
  • Deux Anglaises et le continent, roman, Paris, Gallimard, 1956.
  • Carnets. Les années Jules et Jim, première partie 1920-1921, avant-propos de François Truffaut, Marseille, André Dimanche Éditeur, 1990.

[1954, article-entrevue] Alain Jouffroy (1928-)

  • Un rêve plus long que la nuit, roman, Paris, Gallimard, 1964; coll. ” Folio “.
  • Trajectoire, récit-récitatif, Paris, Gallimard, 1968.
  • Liberté des libertés, illustré par Joan Miró et Valerio Adami, Paris, le Soleil noir, 1971.
  • L’ouverture de l’être 1947-1962, poèmes, préface par Sarane Alexandrian, Paris, Éd. de la Différence, coll. ” Littérature “, 1983.

[1957, article-entrevue] Jean Schuster (1929-1995)

  • Les moutons, Paris, Éd. le Récipiendaire, 1978.
  • Les fruits de la passion, Paris, l’Instant, coll. “Griffures “, 1988.
  • T’as vu ça d’ta f’nêtre suivi d’une Lettre à André Liberati contre les acolytes de Dieu et les Judas de l’athéisme, Levallois-Perret, Manya, 1990.
  • Le ramasse-miettes suivi d’une Lettre différée à Philippe Soupault, Saucats, Opales, 1991.

[1959, article] Salvador Dali (1904-1989)

  • La vie secrète de Salvador Dali, adaptation française de Michel Déon, Paris, Éd. de la Table ronde, coll. ” Les vies perpendiculaires “, 1952; Paris, Gallimard, coll. ” Idées “.

[1963, article] John Cage (1912-1992)

  • Silence, lectures and writings; A year from Monday, new lectures and writings; M, writings, ’67-’72; Empty Words, writings, ’73-’78; X, writings, ’79-’82; Middletown (Conn.), Wesleyan University Press, respectivement 1961, 1967, 1973, 1979 et 1983; Silence, discours et écrits, traduction de Monique Fong, Paris, Denoël, 1970.
  • Pour les oiseaux, entretiens avec Daniel Charles, Paris, Belfond, 1976; For the birds, Boston, M. Boyards, 1981.

[1964, chapitre; 1967, livre] Arturo Schwarz (1924-)

  • Choix de poèmes [en français], Paris, Seghers, 1956.
  • Il Reale Assoluto, poèmes [en italien], avec onze lithographies de Marcel Duchamp et de Man Ray, Milan, Galleria Schwarz, 1964.
  • Per Vera, poèmes [en italien], avec un portrait de Vera par Franco Francese, Milan, Penna di Pollo Editore, 1984.
  • A coat made of wind, poèmes [en anglais], illustré par Ofer Lellouche avec une gravure, Tel-Aviv, The Genia Shreiber University Art Gallery, Tel Aviv University, 1994.

[1968, article] Denis de Rougemont (1906-1985)

  • L’amour et l’occident, essai [1939], édition remaniée, Paris, Plon, 1956; Paris, UGÉ, coll. ” 10 / 18 “; Love in the western world, revised and augmented edition, translated by Montgomery Belgion, New York, Pantheon, 1956 [the other title of this translation isPassion and society, London, Faber and Faber, 1956].
  • La part du diable [fin 1942], nouvelle version, Neuchâtel, la Baconnière, 1945; The devil’s share, an essay on the diabolic in modern society, translated by Haakon M. Chevalier, New York, Meridian Books, 1956.
  • Lettres sur la bombe atomique, Paris, Gallimard, 1946.
  • Journal d’une époque 1926-1946, Paris, Gallimard, 1968 [édition révisée de Journal des deux mondes, 1947].

[1968, livre] Octavio Paz (1914-1998)

  • Liberté sur parole [Libertad bajo palabra, 1949; traduction publiée en 1966] suivi deCondition de nuage, Aigle ou soleil [Aguila o sol?, 1951], À la limite du monde [A la orilla del mundo, 1942] et Pierre de soleil [Piedra de sol, 1957; traduction publiée en 1962], poèmes traduits de l’espagnol par Jean-Clarence Lambert (et revus par l’auteur) et Benjamin Péret, Paris, Gallimard, coll. ” Poésie / Gallimard “, 1971.
  • Versant Est [Ladera Este (1962-1968), 1970] et autres poèmes 1960-1968, poèmes traduits de l’espagnol par Yesé Amory, Claude Esteban, Carmen Figueroa, Roger Munier et Jacques Roubaud, Paris, Gallimard, 1970; coll. ” Poésie / Gallimard “.
  • The collected poems of Octavio Paz, 1957-1987, edited and translated by Eliot Weinberger, with additional translations by Elizabeth Bishop et al., New York, New Directions, 1987.
  • Le singe grammairien, traduit de l’espagnol par Claude Esteban, Genève, Skira, coll. ” Les sentiers de la création “, 1972; The monkey grammarian, translated by Helen R. Lane, New York, Seaver Books, 1981.

[1969, article] Bernard Teyssèdre (1930-)

  • Romans-éclairs, Paris, Grasset, 1961.
  • Foi de fol, récit drôlatique enchevêtré de plagiats et d’exemples, Paris, Gallimard, coll. ” Le chemin “, 1968.
  • Le roman de l’Origine, Paris, Gallimard, coll. ” L’Infini “, 1996.

[1971, article] José Pierre (1927-1998 ?)

  • Qu’est-ce que Thérèse? C’est les marronniers en fleurs, roman, Paris, le Soleil noir, 1974; coll. ” J’ai lu. Pour lecteurs avertis “.
  • La charité commence par un baiser, Paris, Galilée, coll. ” Ligne fictive “, 1980.
  • Les barreaux du coeur, roman, Paris, Mercure de France, coll. ” Le Mercure galant “, 1986.
  • La fontaine close. Les livres secrets d’une secte gnostique inconnue, Paris, l’Instant, coll. ” Griffures “, 1988.

[1972, article] Marcelin Pleynet (1933-)

  • Stanze. Incantation dite au bandeau d’or, Paris, Seuil, coll. ” Tel quel “, 1973.
  • Rime, Paris, Seuil, coll. ” Tel quel “, 1981.
  • Le jour et l’heure, journal, Paris, Plon, coll. ” Carnets “, 1988.
  • La vie à deux ou trois, roman, Paris, Gallimard, 1992.

[1973, article] David Antin (1932-)

  • Selected Poems 1963-1973, Los Angeles, Sun & Moon Press, coll. ” Sun & Moon classics “, 1991; Poèmes parlés, traduction de Jacques Darras et al., préface de Jacques Darras, Saint-Pierre-du-Mont, les Cahiers des brisants, coll. ” les Cahiers de Royaumont “, 1984.
  • Meditations, Los Angeles, Black Sparrow Press, 1971.
  • After the War, a long novel with few words, Los Angeles, Black Sparrow Press, 1973.
  • Talking at the boundaries, New York, New Directions, 1976.
  • *******************

    2. Ceux qui ont publié une oeuvre littéraire (roman, nouvelle, pièce, etc.) qui est ” inspirée ” ou partiellement ” inspirée ” par l’oeuvre ou la personne de Marcel Duchamp
    N.B. Les noms précédés d’un astérisque sont déjà dans la section 1

    Elmer Ernest Southard (1876-1920)

    ” Mlle de l’escalier ” [novelette, dictée le 17 novembre 1916], dans Frederick P. Gay, The Open Mind. Elmer Ernest Southard 1876-1920, Chicago, Normandie House, 1938.

    Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, dite The Baroness, née Elsa Hildegard Ploetz (1874-1927)

    ” Portrait de Marcel Duchamp “, The Little Review, New York, vol. 9, n° 2, hiver 1922.

    Henrie Waste, pseud. d’Henrietta, dite Ettie, Stettheimer (1874-1955)

    Love Days [Susanna Moore’s], novel [écrit de 1919 (?) à 1922], New York, Alfred A. Knopf, [août] 1923.
    ” Pensée-Cadeau: vers à un ami ” [poème, été 1922], dans View, New York, série 5, n° 1, mars 1945.

    [1974, article] Bernard Pingaud (1923-)

    • La voix de son maître, Paris, Gallimard, 1973.
    • La scène primitive, Paris, Gallimard, 1984; coll. ” L’imaginaire “.
    • Adieu Kafka, roman, Paris, Gallimard, 1989.
    • Bartoldi le comédien, roman, Paris, Seuil, 1996.


    2. Ceux qui ont publié une oeuvre littéraire (roman, nouvelle, pièce, etc.) qui est ” inspirée ” ou partiellement ” inspirée ” par l’oeuvre ou la personne de Marcel Duchamp
    N.B. Les noms précédés d’un astérisque sont déjà dans la section 1

    Elmer Ernest Southard (1876-1920)

    ” Mlle de l’escalier ” [novelette, dictée le 17 novembre 1916], dans Frederick P. Gay, The Open Mind. Elmer Ernest Southard 1876-1920, Chicago, Normandie House, 1938.

    Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, dite The Baroness, née Elsa Hildegard Ploetz (1874-1927)

    ” Portrait de Marcel Duchamp “, The Little Review, New York, vol. 9, n° 2, hiver 1922.

    Henrie Waste, pseud. d’Henrietta, dite Ettie, Stettheimer (1874-1955)

    Love Days [Susanna Moore’s], novel [écrit de 1919 (?) à 1922], New York, Alfred A. Knopf, [août] 1923.
    ” Pensée-Cadeau: vers à un ami ” [poème, été 1922], dans View, New York, série 5, n° 1, mars 1945.

    [1974, article] Jean-Clarence Lambert (1930-)

    • Les armes parlantes. Pratique de la poésie, Paris, Belfond, 1976.
    • Idylles précédé de Féminaire, dessins de Corneille, Paris, Galilée, coll. ” Écritures, figures “, 1985.
    • Poésie en jeu 1953-1973, Paris, Galilée, coll. ” Écritures, figures “, 1986.
    • Le jardin le labyrinthe 1953-1989, poèmes, prologue d’Octavio Paz, Paris, Éd. de la Différence, coll. ” Littérature “, 1991.[1974, article] Gilbert Lascault (1934-)
    • Enfances choisies, Paris, Bourgois, 1976.
    • Encyclopédie abrégée de l’Empire vert, Paris, Maurice Nadeau: Papyrus, coll. ” Lettres nouvelles “, 1983.
    • Éloges à Geneviève, Paris, Balland, 1985.
    • Les amours d’Arthur-Toujours-Là et de Monika-Belle-de-Givre, mies de pain de Pétra Werlé, Strasbourg, Baby Lone, coll. ” L’île sonnante “, 1986.
    • *******************

      2. Ceux qui ont publié une oeuvre littéraire (roman, nouvelle, pièce, etc.) qui est ” inspirée ” ou partiellement ” inspirée ” par l’oeuvre ou la personne de Marcel Duchamp
      N.B. Les noms précédés d’un astérisque sont déjà dans la section 1

      Elmer Ernest Southard (1876-1920)

      ” Mlle de l’escalier ” [novelette, dictée le 17 novembre 1916], dans Frederick P. Gay, The Open Mind. Elmer Ernest Southard 1876-1920, Chicago, Normandie House, 1938.

      Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, dite The Baroness, née Elsa Hildegard Ploetz (1874-1927)

      ” Portrait de Marcel Duchamp “, The Little Review, New York, vol. 9, n° 2, hiver 1922.

      Henrie Waste, pseud. d’Henrietta, dite Ettie, Stettheimer (1874-1955)

      Love Days [Susanna Moore’s], novel [écrit de 1919 (?) à 1922], New York, Alfred A. Knopf, [août] 1923.
      ” Pensée-Cadeau: vers à un ami ” [poème, été 1922], dans View, New York, série 5, n° 1, mars 1945.

      [1975, article] Michel Butor (1926-)

      • La modification, roman, Paris, Minuit, 1957; coll. ” 10 / 18 “.
      • Mobile, étude pour une représentation des États-Unis, Paris, Gallimard, 1962; Mobile, study for a representation of the United States, translated by Richard Howard, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1963.
      • Matière de rêves, Matière de rêves II. Second sous-sol, Matière de rêves III. Troisième dessous et Matière de rêves IV. Quadruple fond, Paris, Gallimard, coll. ” Le chemin “, respectivement 1975, 1976, 1977, 1981.
      • Envois et Exprès. (Envois 2), poèmes, Paris, Gallimard, coll. ” Le chemin “, 1980 et 1983.


      2. Ceux qui ont publié une oeuvre littéraire (roman, nouvelle, pièce, etc.) qui est ” inspirée ” ou partiellement ” inspirée ” par l’oeuvre ou la personne de Marcel Duchamp
      N.B. Les noms précédés d’un astérisque sont déjà dans la section 1

      Elmer Ernest Southard (1876-1920)

      ” Mlle de l’escalier ” [novelette, dictée le 17 novembre 1916], dans Frederick P. Gay, The Open Mind. Elmer Ernest Southard 1876-1920, Chicago, Normandie House, 1938.

      Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, dite The Baroness, née Elsa Hildegard Ploetz (1874-1927)

      ” Portrait de Marcel Duchamp “, The Little Review, New York, vol. 9, n° 2, hiver 1922.

      Henrie Waste, pseud. d’Henrietta, dite Ettie, Stettheimer (1874-1955)

      Love Days [Susanna Moore’s], novel [écrit de 1919 (?) à 1922], New York, Alfred A. Knopf, [août] 1923.
      ” Pensée-Cadeau: vers à un ami ” [poème, été 1922], dans View, New York, série 5, n° 1, mars 1945.

      [1975, livre] Jean Clair, pseud. de Gérard Régnier (1940-)

      • Gérard Régnier, Les chemins détournés, roman, Paris, Gallimard, 1962.
      • Le voyageur égoïste, carnets de voyage 1978-1988, Paris, Plon, coll. ” Carnets “, 1989.
      • Onze chansons puériles, numérotées par Pierre Alechinsky (1927-), Caen, l’Échoppe, 1990.


      2. Ceux qui ont publié une oeuvre littéraire (roman, nouvelle, pièce, etc.) qui est ” inspirée ” ou partiellement ” inspirée ” par l’oeuvre ou la personne de Marcel Duchamp
      N.B. Les noms précédés d’un astérisque sont déjà dans la section 1

      Elmer Ernest Southard (1876-1920)

      ” Mlle de l’escalier ” [novelette, dictée le 17 novembre 1916], dans Frederick P. Gay, The Open Mind. Elmer Ernest Southard 1876-1920, Chicago, Normandie House, 1938.

      Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, dite The Baroness, née Elsa Hildegard Ploetz (1874-1927)

      ” Portrait de Marcel Duchamp “, The Little Review, New York, vol. 9, n° 2, hiver 1922.

      Henrie Waste, pseud. d’Henrietta, dite Ettie, Stettheimer (1874-1955)

      Love Days [Susanna Moore’s], novel [écrit de 1919 (?) à 1922], New York, Alfred A. Knopf, [août] 1923.
      ” Pensée-Cadeau: vers à un ami ” [poème, été 1922], dans View, New York, série 5, n° 1, mars 1945.

      [1976, livre] Sarane Alexandrian (1927-)

      • Le déconcerto, contes, Paris, Galilée, coll. ” Ligne fictive “, 1980.
      • L’aventure en soi, autobiographie, Paris, Mercure de France, 1990.
      • Le grand astrosophe, roman, Paris, Losfeld, 1994.


      2. Ceux qui ont publié une oeuvre littéraire (roman, nouvelle, pièce, etc.) qui est ” inspirée ” ou partiellement ” inspirée ” par l’oeuvre ou la personne de Marcel Duchamp
      N.B. Les noms précédés d’un astérisque sont déjà dans la section 1

      Elmer Ernest Southard (1876-1920)

      ” Mlle de l’escalier ” [novelette, dictée le 17 novembre 1916], dans Frederick P. Gay, The Open Mind. Elmer Ernest Southard 1876-1920, Chicago, Normandie House, 1938.

      Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, dite The Baroness, née Elsa Hildegard Ploetz (1874-1927)

      ” Portrait de Marcel Duchamp “, The Little Review, New York, vol. 9, n° 2, hiver 1922.

      Henrie Waste, pseud. d’Henrietta, dite Ettie, Stettheimer (1874-1955)

      Love Days [Susanna Moore’s], novel [écrit de 1919 (?) à 1922], New York, Alfred A. Knopf, [août] 1923.
      ” Pensée-Cadeau: vers à un ami ” [poème, été 1922], dans View, New York, série 5, n° 1, mars 1945.
      [1977, livre] Jean-François Lyotard (1924-1998)

      • Récits tremblants, avec Jacques Monory (1934-), Paris, Galilée, 1977.
      • Le mur du Pacifique, récit, Paris, Galilée, coll. ” Ligne fictive “, 1979.
      • L’histoire de Ruth, avec Ruth Francken (1924-), Talence, le Castor astral, coll. ” Le mot et la forme “, 1983.


      2. Ceux qui ont publié une oeuvre littéraire (roman, nouvelle, pièce, etc.) qui est ” inspirée ” ou partiellement ” inspirée ” par l’oeuvre ou la personne de Marcel Duchamp
      N.B. Les noms précédés d’un astérisque sont déjà dans la section 1

      Elmer Ernest Southard (1876-1920)

      ” Mlle de l’escalier ” [novelette, dictée le 17 novembre 1916], dans Frederick P. Gay, The Open Mind. Elmer Ernest Southard 1876-1920, Chicago, Normandie House, 1938.

      Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, dite The Baroness, née Elsa Hildegard Ploetz (1874-1927)

      ” Portrait de Marcel Duchamp “, The Little Review, New York, vol. 9, n° 2, hiver 1922.

      Henrie Waste, pseud. d’Henrietta, dite Ettie, Stettheimer (1874-1955)

      Love Days [Susanna Moore’s], novel [écrit de 1919 (?) à 1922], New York, Alfred A. Knopf, [août] 1923.
      ” Pensée-Cadeau: vers à un ami ” [poème, été 1922], dans View, New York, série 5, n° 1, mars 1945.

      [1977, article; 1984, livre] André Gervais (1947-)

      • Trop plein pollen, poèmes, revue Les Herbes rouges, Montréal, n° 23, 1974.
      • Hom storm grom suivi de Pré prisme aire urgence, poèmes, Montréal, Éd. de l’Aurore, coll. ” Lecture en vélocipède “, 1975.
      • Du muscle astérisque, proses, revue La Nouvelle Barre du jour, Montréal, série ” Auteur / e “, n° 180, 1986.
      • La nuit se lève, poèmes et proses, avec un tableau de Bruno Santerre. Saint-Lambert, Éd. du Noroît, 1990.


      2. Ceux qui ont publié une oeuvre littéraire (roman, nouvelle, pièce, etc.) qui est ” inspirée ” ou partiellement ” inspirée ” par l’oeuvre ou la personne de Marcel Duchamp
      N.B. Les noms précédés d’un astérisque sont déjà dans la section 1

      Elmer Ernest Southard (1876-1920)

      ” Mlle de l’escalier ” [novelette, dictée le 17 novembre 1916], dans Frederick P. Gay, The Open Mind. Elmer Ernest Southard 1876-1920, Chicago, Normandie House, 1938.

      Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, dite The Baroness, née Elsa Hildegard Ploetz (1874-1927)

      ” Portrait de Marcel Duchamp “, The Little Review, New York, vol. 9, n° 2, hiver 1922.

      Henrie Waste, pseud. d’Henrietta, dite Ettie, Stettheimer (1874-1955)

      Love Days [Susanna Moore’s], novel [écrit de 1919 (?) à 1922], New York, Alfred A. Knopf, [août] 1923.
      ” Pensée-Cadeau: vers à un ami ” [poème, été 1922], dans View, New York, série 5, n° 1, mars 1945.

      [1984, article] Philippe Muray (1945-)

      • Chant pluriel, Paris, Gallimard, 1973.
      • Jubila, roman, Paris, Seuil, coll. ” Fiction et Cie “, 1976.
      • Postérité, roman, Paris, Grasset, 1988.
      • On ferme, roman, Paris, les Belles lettres, 1997.


      2. Ceux qui ont publié une oeuvre littéraire (roman, nouvelle, pièce, etc.) qui est ” inspirée ” ou partiellement ” inspirée ” par l’oeuvre ou la personne de Marcel Duchamp
      N.B. Les noms précédés d’un astérisque sont déjà dans la section 1

      Elmer Ernest Southard (1876-1920)

      • ” Mlle de l’escalier ” [novelette, dictée le 17 novembre 1916], dans Frederick P. Gay, The Open Mind. Elmer Ernest Southard 1876-1920, Chicago, Normandie House, 1938.

      Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, dite The Baroness, née Elsa Hildegard Ploetz (1874-1927)

      • ” Portrait de Marcel Duchamp “, The Little Review, New York, vol. 9, n° 2, hiver 1922.

      Henrie Waste, pseud. d’Henrietta, dite Ettie, Stettheimer (1874-1955)

      • Love Days [Susanna Moore’s], novel [écrit de 1919 (?) à 1922], New York, Alfred A. Knopf, [août] 1923.
      • ” Pensée-Cadeau: vers à un ami ” [poème, été 1922], dans View, New York, série 5, n° 1, mars 1945.

      click to enlarge

      Cover of Littérature,
      André Breton (ed.), N° 5, 1er October, 1922

      Robert Desnos (1900-1945)

      • Rrose Sélavy, [aphorismes, octobre 1922-1923], partiellement dans Littérature, Paris, nouvelle série: n° 7, 1er décembre 1922; toujours partiellement (mais avec variantes) dans Corps et biens, Paris, Gallimard, 1930; coll. ” Poésie / Gallimard “.
      • L’aumonyme [novembre 1922-décembre 1923], dansCorps et biens, Paris, Gallimard, 1930; coll. ” Poésie / Gallimard “.
      • Francis Picabia (1879-1953)
      • Caravansérail, [roman écrit de juin 1923 à janvier 1924], Paris, Belfond, 1974.

      Robert Lebel

      • [La double vue suivi de] L’inventeur du temps gratuit [conte écrit en 1943-1944, publié en revue en 1957], illustré par [Alberto Giacometti et] Marcel Duchamp, Paris, le Soleil noir, 1964; The inventor of gratuitous time, in The custom-house of desire : A half-century of surrealist stories, translated with an introduction by J. H. Matthews, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1975; The inventor of gratuitous time, translated by Sarah Skinner Kilborne (with Julia Koteliansky), with a preface by André Gervais, Tout-Fait. The Marcel Duchamp studies online journal, New York, n° 2, juin 2000.

      click to enlarge

      Robert Lebel, La Double
      , Paris: Le Soleil noir, 1964

      * Michel Butor

      • Passage de Milan (7), roman [écrit en 1950-1951], Paris, Minuit, 1954; coll. ” 10 / 18 “.

      * Henri Pierre Roché

      • Victor, roman [écrit en 1957, inachevé], texte établi par Danielle Régnier-Bohler, préface et notes par Jean Clair, Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, 1977.

      * Jean Suquet

      • ” Discours de Marcel Duchamp ivre sur la condition des filles du boulevard Saint-Laurent “, [extrait d’un roman en préparation, toujours inédit], Liberté, Montréal, n° 76-77, septembre-octobre 1971.

      Tom Stoppard, pseud. de Thomas Straussler (1937-)

      • Artist Descending a Staircase [and Where Are They Now?], 2 plays for radio, Londres, Faber and Faber, 1973. [Artist Descending a Staircase a été jouée pour la première fois sur les ondes de la BBC le 14 novembre 1972.]

      click to enlarge

      Henri Pierre Roché, Victor,
      vol. 4 of the four-volume publication issued for the exhibition
      “L’Oeuvre de Marcel Duchamp,” 31 January – 2 May, 1977, Paris: Centre
      Georges Pompidoue

      Claude Simon (1913-)

      • Triptyque, roman, Paris, Minuit, 1973

      Alain Robbe-Grillet (1922-)

      • Topologie d’une cité fantôme (8), roman, Paris, Minuit, 1976; Topology of a phantom city, translated by J. A. Underwood, New York, Grove Press, 1977.
      • Souvenirs du triangle d’or, roman, Paris, Minuit, 1978;Recollections of the golden triangle, translated by J. A. Underwood, London, J. Calder, 1984.
      • Le miroir qui revient (9), roman, Paris, Minuit, 1984;Ghosts in the mirror, translated by Jo Levy, London, J. Calder, 1988.

      Jacques Charlier (…-)

      • Rrose Melody, Liège, Association Art Promotion, 1977.

      Bryan Ferry (…-)

      • The Bride Stripped Bare, 33 tours, EMI, 1978; CD, Virgin 47606-2 (distribué par EMI)

      * Michel Leiris

      • Le ruban au cou d’Olympia, Paris, Gallimard, 1981.

      Jean-François Vilar (1948-)

      • Le ruban au cou d’Olympia, Paris, Gallimard, 1981.

      [1977, livre] Jennifer Gough-Cooper (…-) & Jacques Caumont (…-)

      • Rrose, sa vie sans cachotteries dépeinte […], épopée [en 1150 vers], Hautot-le-Vatois (Normandie), Académie de Muséologie Évocatoire, 1985.

      Michel Waldberg (1940-)

      • La boîte verte, Paris, Éd. de la Différence, 1995.

      Walter Henry, pseud. de Paul Braffort (…-)

      • Chu dans mer sale ou La rumination polymorphe, Paris, la Bibliothèque oulipienne, n° 86, 1997.


      3. Ceux qui ont publié une oeuvre littéraire (roman, nouvelle, poème, etc.) ” en hommage ” ou partiellement ” en hommage ” à la personne ou à l’oeuvre de Marcel Duchamp
      N.B. Les noms précédés d’un astérisque sont déjà dans la section 1

      Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

      • ” Love – Chemical Relationship ” [poème dédié à Marcel Duchamp], The Little Review, New York, vol. 5, n° 2, juin 1918.
      • ” Mefk Maru Mustir Daas ” [poème dédié à Marcel Duchamp], The Little Review, New York, vol. 5, n° 8, décembre 1918.

      Francis Picabia

      • Pensées sans langage, poème [livre écrit d’octobre (?) 1918 à mars 1919, ainsi dédié: ” Chers amis Gabrielle Buffet, Ribemont-Dessaignes, Marcel Duchamp, Tristan Tzara, je vous dédie ce poème en raison de notre sympathie élective. “], Paris, Eugène Figuière, 1919; Écrits, Tome I: 1913-1920, Paris, Belfond, coll. ” Les bâtisseurs du XXe siècle “, 1975.

      * André Breton

      • ” À Rrose Sélavy “, poème [1923], dans Clair de terre, Paris, coll. ” Littérature “, 1923;Earthlight, translated by Bill Zavatsky and Zack Rogow, Los Angeles, Sun & Moon Press, 1993.

      click to enlarge

      Pierre de Massot, The Wonderful Book,
      Reflections on Rrosé Selavy

      (1924), in Étant donné Marcel
      p, n° 2, February 2000,
      pp. 97~120

      * Pierre de Massot

      • ” Mode d’emploi ” [poème écrit le 8 juin 1923, ainsi dédié: ” pour Rrose Sélavy “] et ” Jeu du ‘dans’ ” [poème écrit au début des années 1950 (?), ainsi dédié: ” pour Marcel Duchamp “], dans Poésie 1, Paris, n° 23 (Jacques Baron, Pierre de Massot, Philippe Soupault: trois poètes surréalistes), mars 1972; Étant donné Marcel Duchamp, Baby, n° 2, février 2000.
      • The Wonderful Book. Reflections on Rrose Sélavy, Paris, hors commerce [Imprimerie Ravilly], s.d. [1924]; Étant donné Marcel Duchamp, Baby, n° 2, février 2000.
      • 5 poëmes, [recueil écrit de 1931 à 1946], dédié “À Marcel Duchamp”, avec un portrait de l’auteur par Francis Picabia, Paris, hors commerce [Imprimerie Gaschet et Cie], 1946.

      Louis Aragon (1897-1985)

      • ” La force ” [poème dédié ” à Marcel Duchamp “], dans Le mouvement perpétuel, poèmes 1921-1924, Paris, Gallimard, 1926.

      Georges Hugnet (1906-1974)

      • Marcel Duchamp [poème écrit le 8 novembre 1939], avec un frontispice par Marcel Duchamp, Paris, hors commerce, 1941.

      Kay Boyle (1902-1992)

      • Avalanche, novel [dédié ” To Monsieur and Madame Rrose Sélavy “], New York, Simon and Schuster, 1944.
      • ” A Complaint for Mary and Marcel “, dans Collected Poems, Port Townsend (Wa), Copper Canyon Press, 1970.

      Henri-François Rey (1919-1987)

      • Les pianos mécaniques, roman [écrit à Cadaquès de mars 1961 à février 1962] (10),, Paris, Laffont, 1962; coll. ” Le livre de poche “; The mechanical pianos, translated by Peter Wiles, New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1965.

      David Young (1946-)

      • Agent provocateur, novel, dédié ” For Marcel Duchamp “, Toronto, Coach House Press, 1976.


      click to enlarge

      André Breton, Au Lavoir
      , Paris: Éditions G.L.M, 1936

      4. Oeuvres littéraires ” illustrées ” par Marcel Duchamp, seul ou en collaboration, ou par Marcel Duchamp et un autre artiste
      N.B. Les noms précédés d’un astérisque sont déjà dans la section 1

      Alfred Jarry (1873-1907)

      • Ubu roi [1896], Paris, Fasquelle, 1921; Reliure pour ” Ubu roi ” d’Alfred Jarry (1935), dessinée par Marcel Duchamp et exécutée par Mary Reynolds. Ubu roi, drama in 5 acts, translated by Barbara Wright, London, Gaberbocchus P., 1966; Ubu rex, translated by David Copelin, Vancouver, Pulp Press, 1977; in Three pre-surrealist plays, translated with an introduction and notes by Maya Slater, Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 1997.

      * André Breton

      • Au lavoir noir, poème, avec une fenêtre de Marcel Duchamp, Paris, GLM, coll. ” Repères “, [janvier] 1936; Illustration pour ” Au lavoir noir ” d’André Breton (1935).
        Young cherry trees secured against hares / Jeunes cerisiers garantis contre les lièvres, choix de poèmes traduit par Édouard Roditi, avec des dessins d’Arshile Gorky, New York, View Editions, [mars ou avril] 1946; Couverture pour ” Young cherry trees secured against hares ” d’André Breton (1945).

      click to enlarge

      André Breton, Young Cherry
      Trees Secured against Hare
      s, Edward Roditi (trans.), New York:
      View Editions, 1946

      Georges Hugnet

      • La septième face du dé, poèmes découpages, couvertures cigarettes par Marcel Duchamp, Paris, Éd. Jeanne Bucher, [mai] 1936; Couverture pour ” La septième face du dé ” de Georges Hugnet (1936).
      • Marcel Duchamp [poème écrit le 8 novembre 1939], avec un frontispice par Marcel Duchamp, Paris, hors commerce, 1941; Moustache et barbe de L.H.O.O.Q. (1941).
        Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)
      • Hebdomeros, Paris, Éd. du Carrefour, 1929; Reliure pour ” Hebdomeros ” de Giorgio de Chirico (1936-1939), dessinée par Marcel Duchamp et exécutée par Mary Reynolds.

      Francis Picabia

      • L’équilibre, [poème écrit en 1917], avec une gravure de Marcel Duchamp, Alès, PAB, [août] 1958.

      Pierre-André Benoit (1921-1993)

      • Première lumière, poème, avec une gravure de Marcel Duchamp, Alès, PAB, [août] 1959.

      click images to enlarge

      Georges Hugnet, La septiéme
      face du dé
      , Paris: Éditions Jeanne Bucher, 1936

      Georges Hugnet, Marcel Duchamp,
      a poem and front piece with
      Moustache et barbe de L.H.O.O.Q.
      (1941) by Duchamp, Paris:
      Hors Commerce, 1941

      *Pierre de Massot

      • Tiré à quatre épingles, poèmes, avec une gravure de Marcel Duchamp, Alès, PAB, [été] 1959.
      • Marcel Duchamp. Propos et souvenirs, avec un readymade rectifié et en couleurs de Marcel Duchamp, Milan, chez Arturo Schwarz, 1965; L.H.O.O.Q. (réplique, septembre 1964); Étant donné Marcel Duchamp, Baby, n° 2, février 2000.

      * Arturo Schwarz

      • Il Reale Assoluto, poèmes [en italien], avec onze lithographies de Marcel Duchamp et de Man Ray, Milan, Galleria Schwarz, 1964; Certificat de lecture (février-mars 1964).

      click images to enlarge

      • Pierre-André Benoit, Première
        , Alès: PAB, 1959
      • Pierre de Massot, Tiré
        à quatre épingles
        , Alès: PAB, 1959

      * Robert Lebel

      • La double vue suivi de L’inventeur du temps gratuit, avec un diptyque gravé à l’eau-forte par Alberto Giacometti et un pliage de Marcel Duchamp (pour les 111 premiers exemplaires), avec une eau-forte de Ferró (pour les 150 exemplaires suivants), Paris, le Soleil noir, 1964; La pendule de profil (1964).

      Envoyer vos remarques: André_Gervais@uqar.uquebec.ca


      1. Cette rétrospective contient Mont de piété [1919, avec 2 dessins d’André Derain], Clair de terre [1923, avec un portrait par Pablo Picasso], L’union libre [1931], Le revolver à cheveux blancs [1932, avec une eau-forte par Salvador Dali], Violette Nozières [1933], L’air de l’eau [1934, avec 4 gravures par Alberto Giacometti] et Au lavoir noir [1936, avec une fenêtre de Marcel Duchamp].

      2. Cette rétrospective contient [Poèmes 1935-1940], Pleine marge [1943, avec une eau-forte de Kurt Seligmann], Fata morgana [1941, avec 4 dessins de Wilfredo Lam], [Poèmes 1940-1943], Les états généraux[1944], Des épingles tremblantes [1948], Xénophiles [1948], Ode à Charles Fourier [1947], Oubliés [1948],Constellations [1959, avec 22 gouaches de Juan Miró] et Le la [1961, avec une lithographie de Jean Benoît].

      3. Cette rétrospective contient, en totalité ou en partie, les brefs petits livres suivants: Soliloque de Nausicaa [1928, avec cinq dessins de Jean Cocteau], 5 poëmes [1946, avec un portrait de l’auteur par Francis Picabia], Orestie [1949], Mot clé des mensonges [1954], Galets abandonnés sur la page [1958, avec une eau-forte de Jacques Villon] et Tiré à quatre épingles [1959, avec une gravure de Marcel Duchamp], auxquels elle ajoutePrison de neige, poèmes écrits en 1960-1961.

      4. Cette rétrospective récente ajoute à la précédente plusieurs autres poèmes ainsi qu’une étude et une biographie.

      5. Cette rétrospective contient les livres suivants: Simulacre [1925], Le point cardinal [1927], Glossaire: j’y serre mes gloses [commencé en 1925; 1939, avec des lithographies d’André Masson], Bagatelles végétales [1956, avec 6 gravures de Juan Miró] et Marrons sculptés pour Miró [1961, avec une lithographie en couleurs de Juan Miró]. Le Glossaire… a une suite: Langage tangage ou Ce que les mots me disent, Paris, Gallimard, 1985.

      6. Sur le rabat de la jaquette: ” Manuscrits choisis à coups de ciseaux, photographies le plus souvent en noir et blanc, articles perdus parmi les feuilles mortes, entretiens de vive voix, clins d’oeil à des amis, retracent sans horloge ni boussole le voyage. ”

      7. Michel Butor, lors de la discussion suivant la communication de Patrice Quéréel sur ce roman dans le cadre d’un colloque sur son oeuvre (qui a eu lieu du 24 juin au 1er juillet 1973), précise ceci: ” En ce qui concerne les appareils idéologiques d’État, j’ai constamment pensé, en vous écoutant, à Marcel Duchamp: il y avait dans cette façon de voir ces institutions le modèle du grand verre de Marcel Duchamp qui est évoqué de toutes sortes de manières dans ce livre. ” Ceci dans Georges Raillard (sous la dir. de), Butor. Colloque de Cerisy, Paris, UGÉ, coll. ” 10 / 18 “, n° 902, 1974, p. 84.

      8. Georges Raillard, dans ” Mots de passe. Quelques notes prises au cours d’une traversée difficile: La belle captive [1976] “, Obliques, Les Pilles, n° 16-17 (Robbe-Grillet), 4e trimestre 1978, cite la dédicace de l’auteur sur un exemplaire de Topologie…: ” quelque chose comme mon Grand Verre “.

      9. Georges Raillard intitule ” Le Grand Verre de Robbe-Grillet ” (La Quinzaine littéraire, Paris, n° 432, 16-31 janvier 1985) sa critique de ce premier tome de l'” autobiographie ” robbegrillettienne, dont le titre général estRomanesques.

      10. Ce roman ne contient qu’une brève allusion à Duchamp qui, de 1958 à 1968, passera un ou quelques mois du printemps ou de l’été dans ce village catalan.

Painting the Large Glass

click to enlarge

Octavian Balea,
the “Large Glass”

[Some time ago, Octavio Balea contacted us from Romania. We learned about his enthusiasm for Duchamp and the horrible state his country is in. It was all the more surprising to see him put with what he called the ignorance of his people and express himself through art. He is angry at the legacy Ceaucescu’s dictatorship has left behind. As a caring and and enthusiastic young man, he is often laughed at, trying to open the eyes of his fellow students to modern art. Octavian draws, paints and takes photographs. A recent series of his work was inspired by Duchamp.]

“Here is why I painted that painting, on my parent’s glass: One night, at 2 A.M., staring at the ceiling, and at the walls, and I thought that the world was getting back at me for a mistake I had never made! I remember that I took the brush in my hand, and I started to paint on what was closest to me! The window was the first thing that I noticed. I was inspired by the genial masterpiece of Marcel Duchamp, called “The Large Glass.” I think that Duchamp wanted to tell more, more than the human mind is able to understand. More than the words can say. I am trying to find a better way to express what it is to express and it is not expressed yet.”

We Deserve Scheme Z and Excavation or the Law of Diminishing Returns


Click here for Video (83.5 KB)

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We Deserve Scheme Z.

This is a Reclamation Artists Project in 1990 at the height of public outcry against “the Big Dig” in Charlestown-a five tiered eight-lane expressway interchange, part of the Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel Project for Greater Boston. A gas pump contains a video monitor showing Boston rush-hour traffic with the audio track overdubbed several times until it sounds like babble. A dead bird covered in oil lays where the price per gallon is usually displayed. The word “Mobiline” is taken from Duchamp’s “love gasoline” the substance activating the Bride’s motor in his work “The Bridge Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even” in the Phildelphia Museum of Art.


Excavation or the Law of Diminishing Returns.

l994 Reclamation Artists project about the same highway system. North Point, Cambridge. Replicas of Duchamp’s Readymades appear to be strewn along an excavated highway. This installation is on the site of the (now under construction) Central Artery. The installation was intended to “disturb the peace” of Modernism as Duchamp had done and as the highway construction is presently doing.

click images to enlarge

Into the Vitrine

click images to enlarge

Marcel Duchamp,
Interior view of Etant donnés: 1º la chute d’eau / 2º le gas
d’éclairage (Given: 1. The Waterfall /2. The Illuminating Gas)

Into the Vitrine
The hand melted down in carbon
like ash
but veined
Fingers in a throttle
and over all
of course
Into the vitrine
it all went
Visibility held its charms
but oh so old
And so closeted in glass
no stench arose.
Rrose Sélavy,
she said.
Harriet Zinnes, 1999

Fig. 1 © 2000 Succession Marcel Duchamp, ARS, N.Y./ADAGP, Paris. All rights reserved.

Bicycles With Elephant Memories Stolen From Our Oasis When We Were The Most Thirsty

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(Sunday April 30th, 2000)

In the April of this year artist, Patrick Grenier performed a new work on the streets of New York City which converged several ideas about memory, loss, vulnerability and reconciliation. The concept was inspired by Duchamp’s sculpture,Large Glass; a poem by Alfred Jarry titled, The Passion Considered as a Bicycle Race; Grenier’s observation of a thief carrying Duchamp’s modified readymadeBicycle Wheel just stolen from the Museum of Modern Art in 1995, over the Brooklyn Bridge; conversations he had with Duchamp’s last assistant, Robert Barnes; the theft of three of his own bicycles; and his interest in the ability of elephants to remember things over a long period of time. The idea of bicycles possessing elephant memories alludes to the idea that possessions are imbibed with the owner’s energies and when that item is taken, its spirit stays with you, as he believes your own spirit leaves with the object stolen.

Grenier along with two other performers rode on vintage bicycles, similar in design to the one drawn on the page of sheet music in Duchamp’s 1914 drawing To Have the Apprentice in the Sun, from the front square of the Brooklyn Museum to the Museum of Modern Art making a total of twelve stops at locations related to the artist for on-site short action performances. The cyclists wore stylized costumes inspired by the work of Duchamp, Jarry and the physiognomy of elephants. Some of the props for the on-site actions included, a bicycle made of thorn branches, a unique chess board with pieces derived from peanut forms and bicycle parts, shadows of bicycles cut out of black velvet, melted chocolate and raw peanuts.

Bicycles are powered by human engines. Muscles and bones work with rubber and metal to become one machine.


  • Cyclists:
    Patrick Grenier as “Peanut”
    Mary Noll as “Padlock”
    Claire Pertalion as “Bicycle Wheel”
    Drew Cerria
    8mm FILM:
    Michael DeRoker
  • 35mm Stills:
    Laura Moss
    Julio Lopez
    Production Assistant:
    Tia Shin
    Laura Moss

© 2005 Succession Marcel Duchamp, ARS, N.Y./ADAGP, Paris. All rights reserved.

L’inventeur du temps gratuit

Un Chapeau

Robert Lebel (5 janvier 1901–28 février 1986), écrivain, expert d’art (à partir de 1935) et expert en tableaux anciens près les tribunaux et les cours d’appels (à partir de 1953), est né et mort à Paris.

C’est à New York, à la galerie d’Alfred Stieglitz, An American Place, en juillet 1936 selon toute vraisemblance, qu’il a rencontré Marcel Duchamp, alors aux États-Unis afin de réparer le Grand Verre.

C’est encore à New York, à l’occasion de la Deuxième Guerre, durant l’exil forcé, qu’il a écrit “L’inventeur du temps gratuit”, vers 1943-1944, “à une époque où je voyais Duchamp presque tous les jours. Le titre Ingénieur du temps perdu date de beaucoup plus tard et je crois que Duchamp s’est inspiré de mon titre plutôt que moi du sien. Je lui avais montré mon texte peu après l’avoir écrit”.(A) Ce “conte féérique et sacrilège en pleine civilisation du gratte-ciel et du métro aérien”(rabat de la couverture, édition de 1977) sera publié une quinzaine d’années plus tard en revue: Le surréalisme, même, Paris, nº 2, printemps 1957, avec trois photos de l’Elevated, justement (B), puis sept années plus tard en livre: La double vue suivi de L’inventeur de temps gratuit, avec un diptyque gravé à l’eau-forte par Alberto Giacometti et un pliage (La pendule de profil, 1964) de Marcel Duchamp, Paris, Le Soleil noir, 1964; ce livre a reçu le prix du Fantastique en 1965.

Enfin, c’est vers 1949 que Robert Lebel a le projet de consacrer un livre — biographie et catalogue — à Marcel Duchamp, livre auquel il travaille de façon élaborée du printemps 1953 à l’automne 1957 et qu’il complète et corrige en 1958, au moment de sa traduction en anglais. Ce livre, qui sera le premier livre, aura été précédé et suivi d’une vingtaine d’articles (sur Duchamp, mais aussi sur Picabia et Duchamp, de Chirico et Duchamp, Breton et Duchamp, Man Ray et Duchamp, etc.) parus à partir de 1949, justement, et qui n’ont pas tous été repris dans l’édition entièrement recomposée de 1985:

Sur Marcel Duchamp, Paris, Trianon Press, 1959; traduit en anglais par George Heard Hamilton, New York, Grove Press, 1959; traduit en allemand par Serge Stauffer, Cologne, DuMont Schauberg, 1962;

• 2e édition, américaine augmentée, New York, Paragraphic Books, 1967; 2e édition allemande revue et augmentée, Cologne, DuMont Schauberg, 1972;

Marcel Duchamp, 2e édition française revue et augmentée, bien qu’élaguée de son catalogue, de ses illustrations et de sa mise en page, Paris, Belfond, coll. “Les dossiers”, [septembre] 1985;

• réimpression en fac-similé de l’édition courante de 1959, augmentée sur feuilles volantes de 4 lettres de Marcel Duchamp à Robert Lebel, Paris et Milan, Mozzotta, et Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, 1996.

Avec Francis Picabia (à partir de 1911), peintre et poète, Man Ray (de 1915), peintre et photographe, et Henri-Pierre Roché (de 1916), collectionneur et diariste, Robert Lebel aura sans doute été le dernier complice de Marcel Duchamp. “Tout en étant très amis, nous étions restés sur une certaine réserve” ainsi résumera-t-il, à la fin de sa vie, cette complicité.

André Gervais
9 avril 2000

Footenote ReturnA. Robert Lebel, lettre à André Gervais, Paris, 21 mai 1979. Ingénieur du temps perdu est le titre de la réédition, en 1977, des Entretiens avec Marcel Duchamp (1967) de Pierre Cabanne.

Footenote ReturnB. Dans un article sur Robert Lebel et Marcel Duchamp (Critique, Paris, nº 149, octobre 1959), Patrick Waldberg précise que “le brillant et curieux texte de Robert Lebel, L’inventeur du temps gratuit, véritable spéculation, au sens où l’entendait Jarry”, aurait pu paraître dans le Da Costa encyclopédique, preparé à partir de 1946. Et il ajoute: “On reconnaît sans peine, dans l'”inventeur” en question, sinon Marcel Duchamp en personne, tout au moins l’un de ses frères en esprit.”

L’inventeur du temps gratuit

par Robert Lebel

Tous les photos reproduit ici étaient publiée avec l’article original.
(Le surréalisme, même, Paris, nº 2, printemps 1957.)

Dès qu’il laissait derrière soi, vers la pointe de l’île, la silhouette mutilée déjà du terminus, l’Elevated pénétrait dans des rues étroites dont il frôlait les façades aux escaliers de fer. Front street, Pearl street qu’il recouvrait et calfeutrait comme de longs tunnels, ne menaient au-dessous de lui, dans l’intervalle de ses ébranlements, qu’une existence illusoire et silencieuse d’ancien décor. Scellées de volets imprenables ou aveuglées de crasse, les fenêtres avaient cessé l’une après l’autre de s’ouvrir. C’était, entre les docks de l’East River et les gratte-ciel de Wall street, l’étrange ville morte où tout ce que New York recelait de menaçant venait se terrer et attendre.

Ce quartier m’attirait et j’ai souhaité d’y vivre mais les maisons y étaient à ce point inhabitées qu’un locataire éventuel y faisait aussitôt figure de suspect. Personne ne voulait croire que l’on songeât sérieusement à s’établir dans ces bâtisses délabrées, à l’écart de tout ce que le zèle urbaniste proposait de dignité et de confort. En vain avançais-je l’excuse que je me donne volontiers d’être artiste. Cet argument qui est accueilli souvent avec indulgence ne provoquait ici qu’un surcroît de méfiance et d’hostilité.

Je n’en poursuivais pas moins mes démarches de porte en porte. La déception que j’éprouvais à me heurter inévitablement à de nouveaux échecs se trouvait amplement compensée par mes découvertes à l’intérieur des maisons que je visitais de fond en comble. J’y errais parfois deux ou trois heures sans rencontrer un être vivant. C’est au cours de l’exploration d’un immeuble qui me parut totalement abandonné que je lus à une porte l’inscription suivante, en français:

A. Loride, L’Inventeur du Temps Gratuit – Cela était écrit à la plume, négligemment, sur une feuille de papier fixée par deux clous.

J’avais déjà pu parcourir, aux autres étages, les bureaux d’une compagnie de navigation, l’atelier d’une imprimerie et un établissement de bains, tous également déserts. J’entrai donc sans hésiter. Il était trois heures de l’après-midi d’un jour ouvrable.

Au centre d’une sorte de vaste entrepôt extraordinairement encombré, un homme entièrement nu exécutait des mouvements de culture physique. Il se retourna et je constatai qu’il devait avoir dépassé cinquante ans, bien que son corps fût toujours assez svelte. Il était glabre et son apparence de méticuleuse propreté dans un tel milieu surprenait. Pourtant je fus surtout frappé par son absence d’embarras. Sans penser à se couvrir, à marquer son étonnement ou à justifier sa tenue, il me considérait avec calme et attendait mes explications.

Je ne trouvai d’abord, plutôt sottement que: “Etes-vous Français?”, ajoutant après un silence: “Je viens pour votre invention”.

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D’un signe, il me permit de m’asseoir mais, sauf un lit où était couchée une très jeune femme, on n’apercevait aucun siège et je m’appuyai contre une caisse, poliment. “Je vous écoute”, dit-il. “A ce moment, l’Elevated surgit au ras des fenêtres et tout se mit autour de nous à vaciller.”

“Monsieur,” lui répondis-je enfin, dès que l’on put s’entendre, “je ne vous cacherai pas que je m’intéresse prodigieusement à vos découvertes et c’est parce qu’il me tarde d’en discuter avec vous que j’ai omis de prendre, avant d’entrer ici, les précautions d’usage.”

˜Je ne reçois que sur rendez-vous,” répliqua-t-il brièvement. “Inscrivez votre nom et votre adresse (il me désigna un mur couvert de notes et de chiffres), je vous convoquerai” et, me tournant le dos, il se remit à sa gymnastique.

Sa lettre ne me parvint que trois semaines plus tard. Elle était rédigée sur une feuille à en-tête de A. Loride and Company. “Je vous préviens, écrivait-il, que je ne suis ni fou, ni mystique, ni philosophe, ni inspiré, ni poète. Je me livre à des recherches positives et mon activité correspond, dans une large mesure, au titre peut-être un peu trop affirmatif que je me suis décerné. Engagé dans une entreprise réelle, la nécessité pratique m’obligeait à lui donner une raison sociale. D’autres s’intitulent bien roi du pétrole ou pharmacien de l ère classe. Quoi qu’il en soit, nos rapports éventuels, permettez-moi de le stipuler, ne pourront être que strictement commerciaux. Je ne désire pas de nouveaux amis, mon excentricité ne regarde que moi et ce n’est pas sans intention précise que j’ai choisi, pour m’y retirer, un lieu où seules votre curiosité et votre extrême indiscrétion devaient vous emmener à me découvrir.” Et il m’assignait un entretien pour un jour suivant.

Je fis le chemin mas l’Elevated. A plusieurs reprises déjà, depuis notre première entrevue, j’avais tenté l’expérience de passer devant ses fenêtres, espérant le surprendre en quelque posture significative mais, du compartiment, s’il eût suffi de se pencher à peine pour frapper à sa vitre, on ne distinguait rien qui permit de soupçonner sa présence.

Il me reçut avec l’impassibilité que j’avais observée précédemment. Il n’était ni réticent, ni chaleureux. C’est armé d’une bonne grâce un peu lointaine qu’il se présentait à ce tête-à-tête dont, visiblement, il n’attendait mais aussi ne redoutait rien. Vêtu non sans recherche, il me guida courtoisement à travers un remarquable désordre de machines, d’établis, de poutres, d’horloges, de coffres-forts, jusqu’au lit qui n’était pas occupé.

“Vous avez beaucoup de matériel,” lui dis je pour amorcer la conversation. “Tout ce que vous voyez dans cette pièce, ou mieux dans ce magasin, y a été laissé par de précédents locataires,” répondit-il. “Vous n’y verrez donc pas grande chose qui m’appartienne, mais je préfère ces instruments de hasard. La diversité de leur nature m’interdit de me borner à un seul mode de réflexions et, dans ce laboratoire dont j’inventorie systématiquement et, bien entendu, à contresens les ressources, mon imagination s’expose moins à marquer le pas.”

“Mais le temps?” demandai-je.

“J’y venais puisque j’ai mis au point ma théorie grâce à la réunion toute providentielle devant moi de ces trois horloges dont une fonctionne avec exactitude, une autre irrégulièrement et la dernière pas du tout. De même, cette bascule m’a conduit à réviser mes vues sur le isotopes et je dois à cette essoreuse électrique des révélations inattendues sur la suspension pyrrhonienne.” Mais, rencontrant mon regard, il ajouta vivement: “Surtout ne me prenez pas pour une espèce de penseur. Je ne vise qu’à relier des notions éparses, je ramasse les miettes des grandes idées. Je hais les abstractions. Toutes ces machines, pour la plupart déficientes, me ramènent sans cesse aux détails, aux vérifications fragmentaires et m’astreignent à un bricolage mental d’une heureuse incohérence. Elles imposent à mon interrogation sa forme concrète tandis que leur caractère éminemment fictif me retient de céder, comme le font les physiciens et comme l’ont fait, malheureusement, tant d’alchimistes, au souci mortel du résultat. J’apprends ici à tirer inutilement parti du tout. Ainsi, le passage inéluctable de l’Elevated assume pour moi une fonction aussi fondamentale que le cycle des marées. Il exprime avec autant de perfection le piétinement humain mais, en outre, il a l’immense avantage de maintenir l’organisme dans un état d’exaspération latente. Le flux et le reflux ne nous incitent jamais qu’à nous résigner, alors que l’Elevated nous pousse directement à la révolte contre ce qu’on persiste à nous présenter comme notre condition.”

“Mais le temps?” insistai-je.

“Nous y sommes. Chacun de nous aspire à l’intensité d’une vie de chien, à ces journées bien remplies qui préludent traditionnellement à un repos bien gagné. Notre époque a beau jumeler en un culte dérisoire la liberté et le loisir, les êtres les plus satisfaits sont toujours les plus affairés, donc les plus asservis. Or il est clair qu’aucun progrès n’est à notre portée si nous ne surmontons d’abord la compulsion de l’activité utile. C’est cependant elle, et elle seule, qui continue à régir notre concept du temps. Tenez, fit-il en saisissant un bâton pour désigner les horloges, chacun de ces cadrans figure le temps sous un de ses trois aspects. Pour la quasi totalité des hommes, il n’en existe qu’un. Les individus dits évolués en pressentent peut-être deux, mais je suis un des rares à en définir explicitement le troisième, si bien que je puis, sans trop d’imposture, m’en présumer l’inventeur. Mon but, d’ailleurs, est moins de le formuler théoriquement que de lui donner une consistance. J’ai l’ambition d’en faire une véritable denrée, un simple objet de consommation et d’échange, au même titre que ces remèdes dont les chimistes sont seuls à connaître la composition, mais qui se vendent à tous les comptoirs. C’est pourquoi je me flatte d’être un commerçant et non un philosophe.”

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Il se tut, alla s’installer devant une machine qui se trouvait à proximité des horloges et, du pied, mit une pédale en marche. Bientôt, de minces baguettes de bois commencèrent à jaillir d’un orifice d’échappement. “Excusez-moi,” dit-il, “je dois satisfaire à une commande pressée.”

“Seraient-ce là vos comprimés de temps?” m’écriai-je. Je les eusse plutôt imaginés cristallins et sous les dehors de quelque pastille.

“Peu importe le symbole,” fit-il, tout en continuant à pédaler. “Il se trouve que, sans y être pour rien, j’ai à ma disposition cet appareil qui débite des rondins dont les quincailliers du voisinage, mes clients, se sont révélés avides. Un sculpteur surréaliste en ferait même, me dit-on, courant usage. Toujours est-il que cette industrie exige à peine de moi la somme d’attention dont je suis capable à l’égard de ce qui me fait vivre. Je puis m’y livrer sans quitter des yeux cette première horloge et, aussi aisément que, de cette même place, je vois venir, passer et disparaître l’Elevated, je vois, sur ce cadran, venir, passer et disparaître le temps qui ne s’interrompt jamais, le temps qui possède une valeur vénale. Ces aiguilles déjà vétustes tournent avec une régularité qui ne peut tenir que du prodige. Il semble que ce soit leur destin de tourner, quoi qu’il arrive. Leur bonheur consiste à n’être ni en avance, ni en retard, ni surtout arrêtées. On discerne dans leur mouvement net, résolu, sûr de soi, la satisfaction cocardière dont resplendit le visage de l’honnête serviteur, de la ménagère diligente, de l’ouvrier consciencieux, du fonctionnaire méthodique, de l’homme d’affaires entreprenant, de tous ces gens que je vois se bousculer le matin dans l’Elevated pour se rendre à leur travail, et s’y écraser de nouveau le soir pour regagner leur domicile. Or ce temps se déroule devant moi comme un film. Je sais, je sens que j’y suis étranger. Littéralement j’y échapper, mais serait-ce en vertu de mon horaire que l’on peut estimer fantaisiste? Je ne le crois pas. Comparez les physionomies que je vous ai décrites avec celles qui les remplacent aux heures que l’on nomme si justement creuses, lorsque les compartiments presque vides sont devenus à peu près confortables. Les privilégiés qui, pour des raisons généralement très douteuses, ont bénéficié d’une levée d’écrou, loin de se montrer ravis, paraissent, au contraire, pour la plupart, inquiets et tourmentés. Ils parcourent distraitement leur journal, ils se crispent nerveusement sur leur banquette, la lenteur des trains les irrite. En bref, leurs symptômes sont ceux d’une rumination morbide.”

S’interrompant soudain, il repoussa du pied les baguettes qui s’étaient accumulées devant l’orifice et il reprit sa manœuvre. “Rassurez-vous,” continua-t-il, “mes voyageurs des heures creuses ne sont aucunement dévorés de remords. Au surplus, la réaction du privilégié devant l’esclavage des autres se traduit plutôt par un cynique contentement. Non, l’explication est ailleurs. Si vous passiez comme moi plusieurs heures par jour à braquer vos lorgnettes sur l’Elevated du haut de cette chaire de prédicateur anglican (ce qui me permet de tout voir sans risquer d’être aperçu), vous pourriez constater que ces voyageurs se subdivisent en deux catégories bien distinctes. Simple problème d’interprétation que j’ai dû résoudre à la façon de l’ethnographe ou de l’anthropologue par une exhaustive confrontation des caractères individuels. Certains voyageurs que l’on surprend, aux heures creuses, à sourire, voire à se détendre, sont en réalité des membres provisoirement détachés de la grande fourmilière. Selon le langage des bureaux, ils sont en course ou, comme disent plus noblement les militaires, en service commandé. Leur sérénité, leur désinvolture, qui les différencient aussitôt de leurs voisins immédiats, n’ont pas d’autre origine. Pour eux, l’heure ne saurait être creuse puisque la société qui ne les perd pas de vue en consacre la densité. Le temps où l’usage a frappé une monnaie reste le lien même qui les rive à leur agitation.”

Tandis qu’il dégageait de nouveau les issues de son appareil, je me permis d’objecter: “Cependant, pour les autres voyageurs des heures creuses, ceux qu’à plus ample examen vous classez toujours parmi les oisifs véritables, comment expliquer leur mélancolie si vous écartez l’hypothèse de scrupule? Aurons-nous recours à l’exploitation banale de l’angoisse dont nos voyageurs sont supposés être saisis devant la perspective de leur disponibilité?”

˜Nullement,” répliqua-t-il avec un peu d’humeur. “Ce serait rendre à l’argument spécieux par excellence, celui dont on se sert communément pour justifier les inégalités sociales et démontrer le bien-fondé de la servitude en exagérant à la fois les responsabilités de l’oisif et les dangers que courrait un homme libre. Si les individus qui parviennent à une relative indépendance sont, de fait, les plus désemparés et les plus ombrageux, c’est que, physiquement affranchis, ils demeurent mentalement des esclaves. Ils ne rectifient pas leur conception du temps alors que celui-ci modifie pour eux son rythme. Dès lors s’introduit dans leur existence le déséquilibre que ces secondes aiguilles miment adéquatement. Elles ne sont plus animées que d’un mouvement erratique, fiévreux en quelque sorte et rompu par de longs moments d’immobilité pesante. Sans cesse, elles sont en avance ou bien en retard mais sur quoi, pourrait-on demander, puisque précisément c’est en dehors du circuit de la ponctualité qu’elles se situent? D’où vient cette inconséquence si ce n’est de la conscience très vive qu’elles conservent encore du temps social? En définitive, leur regret d’en être exclues l’emporte sur leur soulagement d’en être dispensées. Une horloge déréglée, donc libre, n’oublie pas l’horloge exacte qu’elle fut. L’heure qu’elle marque n’est jamais absolument délivrée de l’autre dont un timbre antérieur s’obstine à sonner le souvenir.”

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Sans quitter sa machine, il se prit à rire silencieusement.”Voyez-vous,” enchaîna-t-il, “je n’accepterais le titre de penseur que suivi de l’épithète comique, mais au sens non douloureux du terme et comme Stendhal envisageait de devenir “the comic bard”. Contrairement à Molière et à sa misérable suite de vaudevillistes, je ris moins de l’homme lui-même que des abstractions dont il est pénétré. Le comique de la pensée est beaucoup plus irrésistible que celui des caractères. Il est grand temps d’en finir avec la comédie classique et son arsenal de types à jamais flétris pour lui substituer une comédie de la connaissance qui se terminerait par un beau massacre d’idées, au lieu de conclure systématiquement par l’écrasement du “drôle”. Je vois fort bien, par exemple, une comédie sur la notion du temps, vielle coquette aux minauderies sordides, qui compte et recompte inlassablement son or à mesure qu’il lui glisse des doigts. Ce serait elle qu’il s’agirait de confondre et de rosser en lui laissant, comme il sied, sa configuration idéographique. J’aime souvent à croire que les formes surprenantes dont l’art moderne a été prodigue sont des idées qui ont pris corps et s’apprêtent pour la scène future où elles seront rouées de coups. Ce sont les personnages de notre nouvelle comédie et leur aspect, parfois repoussant à première vue, ne fait que confirmer leur signification mythique et annonce le sacrifice bouffon auquel ils sont destinés.”

Les piles de rondins avaient atteint une hauteurs considérable et, jugeant sans doute suffisant le résultat de son effort, mon hôte cessa de pédaler, se leva, désigna de nouveau la seconde horloge et reprit: “Ce temps qui a cessé d’être social et qui n’a pas encore commencé d’être individuel, ce temps amorphe, incolore, insipide, constitue un intolérable poids mort pour ce qu’on est convenu d’appeler l’évolution humaine. Ou bien celle-ci n’est qu’imaginaire et, parmi des masses éternellement primitives, nous ne représentons qu’une écume négligeable de dissidence, ou bien, dès son départ, cette évolution s’est engagée dans une impasse où elle butte à un obstacle qui la fait irrévocablement refluer. Mais qu’on y prenne garde, le désir même de liberté ne résistera pas indéfiniment au démenti terrible que lui infligent les faits. Entre les paroles que nous énonçons et notre comportement notoire, la brèche scandaleuse s’élargit chaque jour. Autour de nous, les défaillances se précipitent et les plus rebelles font parfois penser à ces femmes émancipées qui souhaitent secrètement un homme à poigne. Il ne leur manque jamais qu’une cause pour s’y consacrer “de toute leur âme”. Reconnaissons-le, ce temps social sait entretenir chez ceux qui, momentanément, s’en étaient écartés, une nostalgie particulièrement écoeurante. Les uns sont à la merci de la première équivoque venue, les autres, orgueilleux de leur fermeté, rédigent avec un raffinement morose les codes de leurs nouvelles contraintes. Ceux-là mêmes, si peu nombreux, qui s’accommodent d’être seuls, paient leur tribut sous forme de gémissements. Ils s’ennuient, ils désespèrent ou, plus ridiculement encore, ils travaillent. Chaque bribe de ce temps, qu’ils ont si péniblement conscience de soustraire à la société, acquiert à leurs yeux une valeur extravagante. Ils s’en instituent personnellement les usuriers et, pour mieux faire fructifier leurs tristes épargnes, ils calculent, ils inventent, ils bâtissent, ils peignent, ils écrivent avec une ardeur désolée. Sans doute se livrent-ils à une sorte de transfert: ils convertissent leur temps papier en temps or, ils le consolident et l’on utilise d’instinct pour cette opération mentale un langage de finance. Il n’est question que d’un placement pour les cieux jours ou, suprême ambition de banquier philanthrope, spéculateur à long terme, d’un moyen de se perpétuer.”

“Voyez-vous,” remarqua-t-il en souriant, “je me laisse à mon tour emporter par la satire. Je stigmatise l’homme moderne, l’homme libre, celui qui, semblable aux anciens duellistes, se tient pour comblé dès qu’on lui accorde le choix des armes qui le tueront. Suivez son manège lorsqu’il hésite triomphalement entre les journaux, entre les professions, entre les églises. Entendez-le s’exprimer à son aise dans des langues qui confondent le temps et la cadence, comme l’anglais time ou l’italien tempo. Regardez-le s’éloigner avec assurance, persuadé qu’il pourrait, à son gré, ne plus revenir, alors qu’il porte en lui, plus contraignant qu’un philtre d’amour, le gage de sa soumission. Dans la forêt même où parfois il s’aventure, les fées, les sorcières, les voix anonymes sont autant d’horloges métaphoriques dont la fonction est de lui rappeler l’heure. Sous son regard, chaque surface est un cadran lisible, chaque ombre, une montre embusquée. L’agonie des minutes brame à tous les échos et, jusque dans l’emportement de son vertige, le voyageur s’écoute vieillir car c’est le temps qui bat son pouls, inexorable chef d’orchestre intérieur. Rebrousser chemin, retrouver le “temps perdu”, quelle tentation pour qui, ayant cru fuir, lui aussi, la vielle terre, reprend à son compte l’exclamation désenchantée d’un auteur connu: “Ce n’est rien, j’y suis, j’y suis toujours”.

Depuis quelques instants, mes yeux s’étaient fixés sur le troisième cadran dont l’aspect immuable commençait à me fasciner. “Que cette inertie ne vous inspire pas des images faciles de néant ou d’éternité,” me dit mon hôte d’un ton sardonique. “Dans cette horloge arrêtée, imaginez au contraire un mécanisme plus sensible que les autres, trop parfait pour enregistrer les vibrations grossières du temps social. Ailleurs, en quelque partie soigneusement occultée de ses rouages, d’imperceptibles oscillations révéleraient le passage presque impalpable du temps gratuit. Certes, la façade figée et comme morte de ce cadran est bien faite pour éloigner ceux qui reculent naturellement devant une mutation possible. Tout annonce un passage à franchir, une rupture à réaliser. Entre ce monde et l’autre, aucune transition légendaire, aucune communication discursive. On ne nous offre pas la clé d’un autre nirvana puisqu’il semble même que là où nous allons, l’extase n’ait plus de raison d’être. Nous ne renouons avec rien et peut être aurons-nous enfin brisé avec tout. Ni cérémonial, ni incantations, ni rites, mais atteindre ai point de lucidité où la notion du temps devient un fruit que l’on pèle”, et il fit avec ses doigts de petits mouvements déliés.

Je brûlais de poser une question mais, me devançant, il ajouta: “Ai-je besoin de spécifier qu’en nous retranchant du temps utile, nous entendons en aucun cas nous restreindre à la quiétude neutre du spectateur, à cette transcendance sceptique ou contemplative qui, pour ma part, me répugne absolument? Le domaine du temps gratuit est celui du risque extrême, de l’exaltation soutenue car il est à la fois le seul où l’on perde sciemment son temps, donc sa vie et le seul où tout effet dramatique, toute emphase soient inadmissibles. Le jeu lui-même s’y dépouille des compensations verbales ou passionnelles que lui avait léguées le temps social où nul acte ne se justifie sans dividende. Les anciens aristocrates prenaient la précaution de réunir tous leurs invités avant de jeter leur argenterie au fond de l’eau et les mises à mort, dans la littérature moderne, ont souvent conservé ce style tapageur. Pour nous, le gaspillage est obligatoirement non ostensible et nous chercherons surtout à donner le change. Nous ne serons ni mages, ni héros, ni justiciers, ni prophètes, mais nous aurons soin de jouer des rôles quelconques avec un faux sérieux qui pourra faire illusion. C’est à l’intérieur même du temps social et non à l’écart, ce qui déjà serait édifiant, que nous créerons, sans nécessairement le laisser entendre, des zones de refus et de légèreté.”

A cet instant, une jeune femme entra. Ce n’était pas celle que j’avais déjà vue. Elle se contenta d’incliner la tête et vint s’asseoir sur le lit sans prononcer un mot. Je me disposais à poursuivre l’entretien lorsque je m’aperçus que, manifestement, les pensées de mon interlocuteur avaient pris un autre cours.

click to enlarge
Cliquez pour agrandir
Cliquez pour agrandir

“Puis-je vous prier de ne plus revenir?” me dit-il après quelques minutes de silence. “Epargnez-moi la disgrâce de reprendre ces démonstrations orales qui ne trahissent jamais que nos propres tergiversations. Un bruit de paroles qui prétendent convaincre et il n’en faut pas davantage au temps social, momentanément conjuré, pour retrouver son arrogance.” Et me poussant aimablement vers la porte, il conclut: “La gratuité ne se sépare jamais d’un certain mutisme. Sans doute en ai-je déjà trop dit.”

Constructing Life

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donnés: 1º la chute d’eau / 2º le gas d’éclairage, 1946-66
Marcel Duchamp, Etant
donnés: 1º la chute d’eau / 2º le gas d’éclairage
, 1946-66

First you have to get far enough back from everything. How ridiculous to let any taboos linger. Having smashed the king of all taboos we looked around to see if anyone else had smashed through as well. Not exactly. Not yet. But had our old friend also sought to defy death? Had he constructed an architectural surround to return to? If “after all death is always only for others,” should not the ironic artist, first off, busy himself with a tomb for himself?!? Revitalizing tombs are Mallarmé’s specialty. His ” Tomb of Baudelaire” serves as point of departure, framing context, and signaling scaffolding for Marcel Duchamp’s heroic but limited, for being local and self-contained, effort to fit himself a tomb. His “Etant Donnés, involving, it would now appear, a returning to this world, might better bear the title ” Encore Etant Donnés” or “To Return To.*”

*Title of a critical essay on Etant Donne by Madeline Gins and Arakawa

*Title of a critical essay on Etant Donne by Madeline Gins and Arakawa

click to enlarge
Click here for video (QT 0.7MB)
Madeline Gins
Madeline Gins

Etant Pris

D. drinks M. drinking B.–drinks-toasts.

Muddy ruby-filled brew.

Pubis, liquid, illuminating gas.

Eternal afternoons—— of cities without night.

Symbols that gaze back at . . . . . . .

Forests of gazing-back symbols–

Dried foliage–

The bec Auer and its predecessor the bec papillon–
or the butterfly or bat’s wing burner

The wick’s desire . . . to be put . . . inserted.

M. Gins

click to enlarge
Click here for video
(QT 0.7MB)
Madeline Gins
Madeline Gins
Duchamp as Rrose Sélavy, 1921
Marcel Duchamp, Marcel
Duchamp as Rrose Sélavy, 1921

Being Taken—Having Taken It To Be
by S. Mallarmé or R. Sélavy

Nature is a temple
Whose living pillars
Release confused words
Perfumes, colors, sounds
Are everywhere let loose
All over the place

Humans pass there
Traversing forests of symbols
Which observe them with
A gaze akin to a familiar regard

M. Gins

[Note: Italized words that come up from the last stanza
of Baudelaire’s poem, Correspondances, to invade its first stanza plus all those that exceed the usual bounds of translation.]

Click here for video (QT 0.5MB)

Madeline Gins

“The Tomb of Charles Baudelaire”

The buried temple divulges from its sepulchral mouth
Sewerage: mud and rubies
Abominably an Anubis
The whole of its muzzle aflame with wild ferocious baying

Or that [as] the [most] recent gas twists the squinty wick,
A sweeper away, one knows, of infamies undergone,
It ignites a haggard immortal pubis
Whose flight moves up and off according to movements
Within and off out from the gas street lamp.

What dried-out foliage in “les cités sans soir”*
Votive, could bless like her, she, in her settling down again
Vainly against the marble vainly of Baudelaire

In the veil that wraps her around, absent with shivers,
Always to breathe
This, she, his Shade
Even if it be a tutelary poison
from which…of which…we perish.

by Stéphane Mallarmé
first translated by Roger Fry
adjusted and retranslated by Madeline Gins

Etant Pris

D. drinks M. drinking B.–drinks-toasts.

Muddy ruby-filled brew.

Pubis, liquid, illuminating gas.

Eternal afternoons—— of cities without night.

Symbols that gaze back at . . . . . . .

Forests of gazing-back symbols–

Dried foliage–

The bec Auer and its predecessor the bec papillon–
or the butterfly or bat’s wing burner

The wick’s desire . . . to be put . . . inserted.

M. Gins

Telescopic/Paralll Malic Moulds
by Rrose Sélavy

Charles Baudelaire 1821-1867
Arthur Rimbaud 1854-1891
Henri Poincaré 1854-1912
Stéphane Mallarmé 1871-1898
Marcel Duchamp 1887-1968


Poincaré’s Infra-thin



we cannot

a curve

without width

and must a straight line

under the form of

a rectilinear band

having breadth.

But well know these lines have no width.

Have them be narrower and narrower

thus to approach the limit;

so we do in a certain measure,

but we shall never attain this limit.

Always picture these two narrow bands,

one straight, one curved,

in a position such that

they encroach slightly one upon the other

without crossing.

A hand made of paper

and a hand made of gentle breeze

were made to shake hands

so that zeroing in on

the as-always oversized

triggering-zero might keep narrow. . . .

B. [tangent at infra-thin]

A high-tension non-wire

The tension needed to hold the image of a line.

The width of this line shall not exceed the posited non-width.

The tension needed to hold the thought-the breaking into thinking–
of a line.

The-tension-needed-to-hold-the-image-of-a-line’s width, non-width,
or near-non-width.


T-T-T . . . te te te te te

A cross-sectional slice, a shaving, a would-shaving of



Figs. 1, 4 © 2000 Succession Marcel Duchamp, ARS, N.Y./ADAGP, Paris. All rights reserved.

An Impertinent Pilgrimage: A “Meditation” on the Creation of Praying for Irreverence

click to enlarge

Dove Bradshaw, 
Praying For Irreverence

Dove Bradshaw,
Praying For Irreverence,

My involvement with Marcel Duchamp started early. Growing up in Manhattan, I first went to the Museum of Modern Art when I was eleven or twelve. I was understandably attracted to the machine imagery of theBicycle Wheel in their permanent collection. The subversive nature of the work left a strong imprint. My first artbook was Arturo Schwarz’s original Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp. By 1969 I was in art school, and it was there that I stumbled into my future work with Indeterminacy in a piece that came from life. It was titled Plain Air.

click to enlarge

Dove Bradshaw,
Plain Air

Dove Bradshaw,
Plain Air, 1969-91
PS1 Institute of Comtemporary Art

Cycling home from school, I came across a discarded bicycle wheel. I hung it horizontally in my studio as a perch for a pair of doves. At the time I let them fly free. The birds picked up pieces of wire and string from the studio to make a nest. Then I placed a Zen archery target below the wheel on the floor. This piece has been recreated three times since: at Sandra Gering and PS 1 Institute of Contemporary Art in New York and at The Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh.

In 1977 my partner William Anastasi was offered three evenings at the Clocktower in which to perform versions of You Are, a piece from 1967. He wanted a writer, a painter and a composer each to serve as narrators. The narrators described ad libitum the viewers. This was taken down by a court reporter and transcribed by a typist; the pages were then pinned to the wall. Because of my involvement with the philosophy of chance, (and remembering that Bill had met John Cage in the 1960s) I suggested Cage as the composer. Cage agreed; a friendship developed and through him we met Teeny Duchamp.

We were invited for dinner with Teeny at Cage’s house in 1982. John, as he often did, had asked us to arrive at five for a round robin of chess. Chance placed me across from Teeny. We had not met before and had barely said a few words before beginning.

It was an intense game. Chess has the capacity to be more revealing than small talk. The play went on for about two hours and I had the sense that neither of us wanted the other to lose, although perhaps neither wanted to throw the game. Teeny, the stronger player, won. This was the beginning of our friendship; we kept a correspondence until her death.

Bill and I often traveled to Europe for our work. On a number of occasions, we stayed with Teeny for a couple of weeks at her home in Villiers-sous-Grez. In 1984, on such a visit, Teeny had driven us to Paris where she had things to do. She put us up in the apartment/studio in Neuilly that she had shared with Duchamp. She returned for us the next day. It was a marvelous unplanned experience.

The Neuilly studio was the place where Duchamp died. Although fifteen years had passed, it looked as if he had just left. The books and folios on the shelves gave the impression of constant use. The room seemed filled with a beautiful spirit.

Among many of the readymades were the Bottle Dryer, Fresh Widow and Fountain. The next morning I asked Bill to photograph me Praying for Irreverence.

That night, we took off for Cadaquès, Spain, where Teeny and Marcel had summered. Our host was Richard Hamilton who was responsible for the typographic version of the Green Box notes. Hamilton’s house (formerly the Governor’s) is a medieval building made of local flint stone. Richard had gathered a rare mix of Antonio Gaudí and seventeenth century furniture. We arrived in January during the month of the Mistral (a cold violent wind which whips off the Mediterranean). Its incessant howling rang through Richard’s vaulted stone corridors. And each house we entered made a different sound. It was known to have set a native’s mind mad. We left this place after a week. I was grateful to quietly reclaim my thoughts. To this day, I associate the wail of the Mistral with that land of Duchamp, Dalí, and Buñuel.

Click here for images of Duchamp’s studio/apartment in Neuilly.

Click here for information on Dove Bradshaw’s recent exhibitions.

For articles on Dove Bradshaw’s “Firehose” (1976-2000),
see The Columbus Dispatch and The New York Magazine.

Click here to see Dove Bradshaw’s recent work: Water of Life.

Science meets Art: This Quarter and Jacob Bronowski

click to enlarge

Cover for This Quarter, article
by André Breton, edited by Edward W.
Titus, Paris: The Black Manikin
Press, September 1932

This Quarter (vol. V, no. 1) of September 1932 was published and edited by Edward B. Titus. In his third year as editor for the The Black Manickin Press, he also published the memoirs of Kiki de Montparnasse and books by Anaïs Nin. This Quarter‘s “Surrealist Number” contains articles, prose and poems by important artists and writers of the movement, among them Salvador Dalí, Paul Eluard, Max Ernst, René Crevel and Tristan Tzara. Samuel Beckett also translated some of the poems. In his editorial note, Edward W. Titus describes the tremendous impact of Surrealism, however acknowledging with embarrassment the unhappiness of guest editor André Breton at having been asked to leave out “politics and such other issues not be[ing] in honeyed accord with Anglo-American censorship usages.” It is in this issue that for the first time ever, various unpublished notes by Duchamp appear, two years prior to the publication of his Green Box in 1934. Curiously enough, the chosen notes include various mentionings of the title of Duchamp’s posthumously revealed work: Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas (1946-1966).

With a preface by André Breton, This Quarter published these notes in English, translated by J. Bronowski. Besides a longer note titled ‘Preface’ and an ‘Algebraic Comparison,’ This Quarter contained Duchamp’s thoughts on the ‘Malic Moulds’ and the ‘Draft Pistons,’ the former being an integral part of the Large Glass‘s lower half, the domain of the Bachelors, and the latter being integral to the upper half, the domain of the Bride.

Notes by Marcel Duchamp (1911-15) which Bronowski translated from, in: This Quarter

English translation of Marcel Duchamp’s notes by J. Bronowski, in: This Quarter, edited by Edward W. Titus, Paris: The Black Manikin Press, September
1932, p.189-192

In his preface, André Breton (who published three of the same notes in the fifth issue ofSurréalisme au Service de la Révolution, May 1933) (1) calls the notes an abstract “from a large, unpublished collection […] intended to accompany and explain (as might an ideal exhibition catalogue) the ‘verre’ (painting on clear glass) known as The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Own Bachelors.” He goes on to maintain that the extract “is of considerable documentary value to surrealists.”

Richard Hamilton, who in 1960 published a typographic version of the Green Box, was somewhat dissatisfied with J. Bronowski’s first translation of and graphic attempt at the notes. “This Quarter gives translations of four separate notes though the layout does not make this clear. The translator has been at some pains to transpose the visual complication of the manuscript. “Limited to printed text, “Bronowski’s extract […] must be selective.” (2).

But who was J. Bronowski? (3)

Jacob Bronowski was born in Lodz, Poland, in 1908. Fleeing World War I, his family moved to London, where Bronowski eventually won a math scholarship to Cambridge, working in a specialized area of algebraic geometry. Between 1929 and 1942 he published his papers, bearing titles like “The Figure of Six Points in Space of Four Dimensions” (1942), in the Cambridge Philosophical Society Proceedings and other learned journals. During World War II, due to his mathematical training, he led the development of the Operational Research units for both the British Ministry of Home Security and the Joint Target Group in Washington. As head of the Chiefs of Staff Mission, he was among the first to be sent to Nagasaki to survey the damage of the atomic bomb. According to his wife, Rita Bronowski, “this was the great turning point in Bruno’s [as she refers to her late husband] life.” His three lectures given at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1953 called for a responsible combination of humanistic values and scientific endeavors. After World War II he did not return to his university job but started a research laboratory for the British National Coal Board. “An early environmentalist and ecologist, he invented and developed a new kind of smokeless fuel from coal,” his wife noted. In 1963 Bronowski returned to teaching, at the Salk Institute of Biological Studies in California. His lifetime interest in cultural and anthropological evolution culminated in a highly popular 13-hour television series called The Ascent of Man.

Bronowski died in 1974, leaving behind numerous popular books like Science and Human Values (1956) and a groundbreaking study of William Blake (William Blake: A Man Without a Mask, 1944). Jacob Bronowski had a lifelong interest in literature. While still an undergraduate he started a small avant-garde magazine called Experiment. There one can find the earliest writings of William Empson, Paul Éluard, W.H. Auden and many more. Rita Bronowski remembers that “after receiving his Ph.D. and conducting three years of research, it became clear that being a Jew, Bruno would not be made a Fellow at his college (Jesus College, Cambridge). He decided to ‘drop out.’ Like so many young students (hippies, thirty years later), bearded and down-at-heel, he went to Paris to write. There he met, among others, Samuel Beckett, and they jointly edited an anthology called European Caravan (1931).” It was in Paris that Bronowski bumped into the Surrealists and together with Beckett, he helped translate the Surrealist Number of This Quarter. According to Rita Bronowski, her husband was picked to translate Duchamp’s notes since he was not only a poet but, most of all, a trained scientist.

A poet all his life, Bronowski once wrote: “The great poem and the deep theorem are new to every reader and yet are his own experience because he recreates them. They are the marks of unity in variety and in the instant when the mind seizes this for itself in art or science, the heart misses a beat.” (4). In 1939, Jacob Bronowski wrote the following and previously unpublished poem on the death of the Austrian satirist Karl Kraus (5):

  • Jacob Bronowski
    The Death of Karl Kraus
    Kraus died in time: before the God
    he honored as his equal, who shot
    Lorca, and brutally smashed
    Mühsam’s delicate ears, washed
    Vienna with his cleaning squads.

    Now becomes God the anger which
    Kraus spilled upon the dunged and rich
    ferment Vienna. God also saw
    the Danube spawn this medlar culture,
    and plunged to drain it like a ditch.

    Would Kraus to-night think it given
    him as a grace, if he were driven
    by boors to clean latrines? Or would
    that bitter Jew pray for his God’s
    forgiveness, but would not forgive?
  • O yes, the age which he disowned
    was easy, ageing, overblown.
    Kraus prayed an age sharp as day
    might etch his eyes: who, had he stayed,
    would see an age like night come down,

    and sharp and savagely blind
    the poet’s eyes, and splash his mind
    bloody from a knacker’s wall.
    Hate and terror walk the malls.
    Below the city, torture mines

    the cellars.O Mühsam, Lorca,
    I call to you across the dark
    age, ere my voice too is dumb.
    Give courage when the headsmen come.
    Give to the desecrated God
    who Kraus unleashed, once more his manhood.
    Give light where only ghosts, your ghosts are.


1. Francis M. Naumann, The Art of Making Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, (Ghent, Amsterdam: Ludion Press, 1999), p. 112.

2. Richard Hamilton, Collected Words, (London: Thames and Hudson, 1982), pp.184-186.

3. The information and quotations of this and the following paragraphs come from “Bruno: A Personal View,” by Rita Bronowski in: Leonardo (vol. 18, no. 4, 1985), pp. 223-225, and a telephone conversation with Ms. Bronowski, 4 April 2000.

4. Jacob Bronowski, Science and Human Values (bound with The Abacus and the Rose: A New Dialogue on Two World Systems), (New York: Harper & Row, 1960), p. 32.

5. Karl Kraus (1874 – 1936) was a satirist, publisher, poet, essayist, and playwright in Vienna during a time of economic, social and political change in Austria. A member of the café bohemia, Kraus focused his acerbic sarcasm on people (including his own social set), events and the fallacies of political and social elements of turn-of-the-century Vienna. The son of a successful businessman, Kraus was financially supported by his family, which allowed him to spend six years at the University of Vienna (starting in 1892), studying law for two years before switching to philosophy and German studies. In April 1899, shortly after he left the University (without attaining a degree), he started the stinging journal Die Fackel (The Torch), which remained in existence until four months before his death. Kraus’s most noted play was Die letzten Tage der Menschheit (The Last Days of Mankind), written between 1915 and 1917, and among his many essays are “Die Demolierte Literatur” (“The Demolished Literature”) and “Sittlichkeit und Kriminalität” (“Morality and Criminality”).

Figs. 2-5 © 2000 Succession Marcel Duchamp, ARS, N.Y./ADAGP, Paris. All rights reserved.