Did you know Marcel Duchamp was an excellent painter?


The exhibition that the Centre Pompidou is devoting to Marcel Duchamp – Painting, Even – is the first one entirely dedicated to his paintings, and this side of the artist who generally is considered the one who has killed painting couldn’t have been better described, with more than 100 artworks on display, including sculpture, films, documents and a comprehensive selection of writings. Almost all the pictures Duchamp has produced during his career are gathered here, most of them on loan from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, hanging of the walls besides their visual sources and references: Francis Picabia, Odilon Redon, Eduard Manet, Alberto Martini, but also old masters such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Albrecht Durer and Lucas Cranach the Elder.


This latter has been among Duchamp’s sources of inspiration for Mariée, 1912, a picture painted with extraordinary precision, while paying attention to the visual effect of the work, and the effectiveness of the process of abstraction, more than to its conceptual side. Since a considerable part of Duchamp’s art practice is to be found in his perception – and communication – of himself as an artist, we leave to his words – kindly provided by the exhibition’s curators – the comment of this unpredictable dialogue between Mariée and Cranach’s Venus.


This works belongs to a series of studies made for the Large Glass I began three years later in New York. Replacing the free hand by a very precise technique I embarked on an adventure which was no more tributary of already existing schools. This is not the realistic interpretation of a bride but my concept of a bride expressed by the juxtaposition of mechanical elements and visceral forms.


Marcel Duchamp, 1964


I love those Cranachs, I love them. Cranach, the old man. The tall nudes. [The] nature and substance of his nudes. The nature and substance of his nudes inspired me for the flesh color [fr the Mariée].


Marcel Duchamp, 1949



October 11, 2014