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Author photo. Leon Hartt, Marcel Duchamp (center), and Mrs. Hartt: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, George Grantham Bain Collection

Leon Hartt, Marcel Duchamp (center), and Mrs. Hartt: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, George Grantham Bain Collection (REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-USZ62-63273)

Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968)

Author of Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp

Includes the names: Rrose Selavy, Marcel Duchamp

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Marcel Duchamp was raised in Normandy, one of seven children in a family of artists. One of his earliest works, Landscape at Blainville (1902), painted at age 15, reflected his family's love of Claude Monet. Marcel was close to his two older brothers, and in 1904 he joined them in Paris to study painting at Academie Julian. Duchamp studied all the modern trends in painting in Paris of the era, including Fauvism, Cubism, and Impressionism. He was attracted to avant-garde notions of the artist as an anti-academic and the mysterious allure of Symbolism. He first gained wide recognition as an artist in 1913 when he submitted his painting Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 to the Armory Show in New York City. Duchamp devoted seven years (1915-1923) to planning and executing one of his other major works, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, or The Large Glass. In 1915, Duchamp emigrated to the USA while finishing his Bride. As Surrealism became popular in France, Duchamp traveled between New York and Paris, participating in printed textual projects, sculptural installations, and collaborations in all mediums with Dadaists and Surrealists. In 1920, Duchamp adopted an alternate female persona, "Rrose Selavy," to fully explore ideas of sexual identity. He continued to make "readymades" (his own term) and exhibited his famous Bottle Rack series in 1936. He belonged to a tight-knit group of friends and fellow artists, including Man Ray, and preferred to work in complete secrecy until his death in 1968.
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