Vol.1 / Issue 2

I Cover the Cover

by Peter Lindamood.

Let's start with the wine bottle, even as Marcel Duchamp and André Breton did one evening. Marcel flatly denies that the dinner was anything special in a commemorative or flamboyantly conversational sense despite what we all might have imagined, but he did save the bottle which now spumes that smoke across the cover. "Vintage cobweb?" "Indeed not" (Marcel). "Cobwebs never stay on bottles in America!" When cover-creating time arrived, Duchamp seized a hand-saw and racheted it through a yelping piece of gray cardboard which bore the tattered trade-name "DUCASSE." The clever droppings from this operation (now you saw it, now you didn't) fell upon the beglued bottle, making all the could be desired in caveau culture. Meanwhile, every hole-boring expert in the glass manufacturers' almanacs dampened any hopes of tubing the smoke through the bottle, bottom-to-topwise. So, calling upon thirty years of art-plumbing expediency, Duchamp rigged up a smoke pipe (now invisible) under the bottle, the pipe's end coinciding with the bottle's neck and held therto by a clip extending from the cork's customary cove.

This triumph of the smoking bottle made up for the failure of the much-experimented-with ray of light which was to have shot from page left across the planetarium illusion of the background, under the smoke. As for the zodiac-pointillism just referred to, Marcel in telling it and I in covering it have to telescope a sad saga of experiments ranging from abortive essays at condiment-sprinkling to the finally successful technique, which was really a toothbrush offspring of frottage (in this case a print-soaked brush dragged with choreographic tension down the paper).

Now between the third (or fourth) montage-stage which Duchamp showed me and the finished job, I understand there were to be several more interludes. All this later involves quite magical little halftone screens which push the peppery stars way back into the telescopic reality of the Milky Way, at the same time isolating and pointing up to the wine bottle in all its sculptural glory. What better place than this to tell of the Enormous Room — Surrealist Manifesto French War (!) veteran connotations of the bottle's etiquette, or label, which (look twice), has nothing to do with grape snobbery but is really Duchamp's Livret Militaire (Service Record).

Finally, all the color accents involved in the cover-making — arrive there thanks also to the wizardry of those halftone screens — whose potentialities Marcel was too modest to admit to me he had considerable expanded during the accouchement.

(from: View, Marcel Duchamp Number, vol. 5, no. 1, March 1945, p.3)