Henri-Robert-Marcel Duchamp was born July 28, 1887, near Blainville, France. He came from an artistic background with his grandfather being a professional engraver. Also, four of the six Duchamp children became artists, gaston, later known as Jacques Villon, Raymond, who called himself Duchamp-Villon, Suzanne his sister and Marcel.
Among Duchamp's most famous pieces was Nude descending a staircase no2
, which was a series of female nudes superimposed upon each
other descending a staircase. This was well received at the Armory exhibition of 1913. Another similar work called Nude
was refused entry in the the 28th Salon des Indépendants exhibition in 1912. There was, however, no nude in this piece but a descending machine. It caused uproar and not because it was a Cubist piece as the committee was well accustomed to it. Rather, a popular notion is that it was the sense of irony and provocation that this piece had, indeed even the title seemed a mockery. The fact that this piece was well received in the New York Armory exhibition with Nude descending a staircase no2
and not in Paris a year later, caused Duchamp to lose his belief in painting itself and at the age of 25 he stopped altogether.
During this period he started producing what was known as the readymades
. These were everyday objects which were slightly altered in order to emphasise the fact that anything can be art if we wish it to be so. Essentially they were seen, however, as a derisive gesture against art itself and it wasn't for many years that the positive aspects and new perspective of art was seen. The first readymade was the Bicycle wheel
made in 1913, but the most famous work was the photo of Mona Lisa
with a moustache and goatee beard which he produced during his connection with the Dadaist group.
Marcel Duchamp did not revolve in art circles but maintained contact with the Surrealist group as many of them were former Dadaists. He produced a publication called the Green box
which was a series of articles on his painting The Large Glass
in 1934 and which Breton then acclaimed in Minotaure in 1935. After this time the association between Duchamp and the Surrealists was stronger and he was involved in many of their exhibitions from 1938 to 1959.
Marcel Duchamp died on October 2nd 1968 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France.