Psychological Analysis of Duchamp’s Handwriting

Marsell, Shirley , 2000/12/01, 2019/05/17

click to enlarge
from the Green Box
Marcel Duchamp, Note
from the Green Box,
1934 © 2000 Succession
Marcel Duchamp, ARS, N.Y./ADAGP, Paris

Marcel Duchamp’s handwriting shows that he is a highly intelligent, creative and expressive individual (1) . We see this in the overall appearance of his writing. It is legible and well placed on the paper. We see that he has both artistic and literary talents by the way he writes the letter “d”.

The upper zone in handwriting analysis is the area of intellect and creativity and because Duchamp’s writing contains loop additions to the letters h’,’b’, ‘f’, and to the capital ‘L’, and we can see a certain degree of dishonesty. Here is an individual who will mean something entirely different from what he appears to be showing. These additions are an attempt to fool you into believing that what you see is not entirely what he originally intended you to see. He also crosses many of his ‘t’s’ with a long dagger-like cross with the point of the dagger pointing away from the letter which indicates a certain degree of hostility.

His writing also shows an uncomfortable connection to his father. He appears to have some problems with authority and authority figures. He pays a great deal of attention to details and appears to be looking ahead to the future and moving from the past and a possible connection to his mother. I would not be surprised to find that there has been some disharmony in his early years at home.

He is given to simplification in his mental activities and carries this out in his day to day life. In all probability, he is more comfortable by himself than he is in the company of others. His “World Directness Syndrome”(III) is limited, which is to say that he expects others to contact him and reach out to him, rather than extend himself. He shows a tendency to keep people at a distance, as seen in long ending strokes, which is another attempt to control relationships. He also has a great deal of stubbornness that is indicated by his tented ‘t’s’. He stands strongly on his convictions.

The way he writes his ‘q’s’ and ‘y’s’ show some confusion about his sexuality and the pastocity (thickness and heaviness of the letters plus the crossing out of thoughts) in the “Emotional Release Syndrome”(IV) shows his need, desire or demand for gratification of one or more of his senses. It tells us that he was an emotional individual who was repressed, probably emotionally, as seen in the “World Directness Syndrome”(III).

So that’s what I’ve come up with so far. Looking at his handwriting as he ages, there are no great differences between 1910’s and his elderly handwriting. I will do further analysis sometime in the future.


The psychogram is a psychological chart or “map” on which an individual’s essential handwriting characteristics are recorded. The Psychogram is arranged in syndromes and plotted on a circle. It is divided into eight syndromes, Klara Roman, who developed the Psychogram in Hungary and took it with her to America in the 1940’s, defined it as a profile in a circle” of the writer’s personality. The upper half of the Psychogram deals with intangible values, aspirations, imagination and things of the mind and spirit. This includes artistic ability, creativity, literary talent and overall intelligence. The lower half deals primarily with the unconscious and measures drives, libido, emotions and repressions.Although in plotting a psychogram, some of the values are subjective, many are measured on an instrument called a Psychogram Guide.


Footnote Return1. I will work on analyzing his writing in the thirties, but basically it doesn’t change much from what I’ve seen. This is the first analysis but before we begin, allow me to insert a few disclaimers. 1.Because I do not have the originals before me I have to make some assumptions: I cannot tell the true margins because there are no lines delineating where the paper begins and ends and that will affect to a small degree the past, future reading in my report, so I just assumed that he had an average on the Psychogram.