Early in 1962 Marcel Duchamp visited the students at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia.
I had seen his works at the Philadelphia Museum of Art when I was 12 years old and taking classes there. Now Marcel come into each studio and viewed our works. I was doing a series of “Housewives” entangled with shower nozzles, toilets, irons, etc. in an expressionistic way. He thought they were a mix of Matta and deKooning. I did like both of them. In fact the summer before while on a travel grant from the Academy I had bought two Matta Color Lithographs for $25. each in Rome.
click to enlarge
“Marcel Duchamp and
the Academy Bones,”
photography by Rodger LaPelle, 1962
He then spoke in the auditorium about his art and said that now he was an underground artist. I was the only one with a camera, and posed him next to the Academy Skeleton. I took one shot and filed it away. This year it dawned on me to show it and publish it after 38 years.
In 1968 I started to sell my work in Cordier & Ekstrom Gallery in the penthouse over the old Park Bernet Auction House in New York. Duchamp and Man Ray, Noguchi, Bearden, Chryssa etc. were Arne Ekstrom’s artists then and here I was sharing a Gallery with Duchamp. There was, I remember, a great exhibition of Chess, and once Arne showed me the Valise of Duchamp in his back office.