Corkscrew's Shadow

Main Readymade
Original version, 1920
Original Version:

lost, unrealized?
ca. 1920, New York
as pictured in T um', 1920

This Readymade does not stand alone, but is in fact a detail of Duchamp's last painting, T um', made in 1920 for friend Katherine Dreier. Presumably the shadow of a "real" corkscrew, this Readymade is not standard by any means. The shadows painted onto the canvas were cast by Duchamp's Readymades as they stood around him in his studio. The distinct shadows of Hat Rack and Bicycle Wheel stand out clearly. A third shadow, that of an everyday corkscrew, cannot be linked to a known Readymade of the time. When questioned in reference to this, Duchamp responded that the Corkscrew's Shadow is the Readymade. One must consider this piece in relation to other works within Duchamp's oeuvre of Readymades. When this is done, a possible association becomes apparent. The corkscrew suggests the "opening up" of a bottle to the air, thus releasing the pressure of containment that so many of his Readymades address.

Additional detail of T um', 1920
(showing the shadow of Hat Rack)

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