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Marcel Duchamp: The Bachelor Stripped Bare

Overview

Marcel Duchamp: The Bachelor Stripped Bare is not the first full-length biography of Duchamp, but it is the first to present him in all his human contradictions and to take a refreshingly objective look at his real contribution to twentieth-century art. The well-known facts are explored here: Duchamp's myriad personal relations (with family, lovers, collectors, and artists ranging from Man Ray, Picabia, and Breton to the Stettheimer sisters and the Arensbergs); the creation of major works such as the "readymades"...
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Overview

Marcel Duchamp: The Bachelor Stripped Bare is not the first full-length biography of Duchamp, but it is the first to present him in all his human contradictions and to take a refreshingly objective look at his real contribution to twentieth-century art. The well-known facts are explored here: Duchamp's myriad personal relations (with family, lovers, collectors, and artists ranging from Man Ray, Picabia, and Breton to the Stettheimer sisters and the Arensbergs); the creation of major works such as the "readymades" and the Large Glass; his passion for chess and presumed abandonment of painting. But beyond this, Alice Goldfarb Marquis looks past the diffident, humorous mask that Duchamp wore with friend and acquaintance alike, to explore the passions and insecurities that motivated many of his artistic and personal evolutions. And she separates the artist from the con artist, to determine just how profound an influence Duchamp has been.
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Editorial Reviews

Choice
A refreshingly straightforward and informative chronicle of the life of charismatic iconoclast Duchamp ... well paced, clearly put, and rich with personal insights.
The New York Times
A lively, detailed history of public arts funding that doesn't shy away from either the hard facts or most of the hard questions.
Washington Times
The one indispensable Duchamp companion [and] the most sober appraisal yet of this artist ... Ms. Marquis's book is the one anyone inclined to explore this subject should read first.
Publishers Weekly
Perhaps the 20th-century art world's most stimulating gadfly, Duchamp (1887-1968) wielded great influence on young American artists, from his cavalier pronouncements and installations to his cryptic sense of humor. He is the subject of an enormous critical industry and produced an alarming amount of primary source material in his own prose and interviews. Sifting through the latter requires a canny guide with a keen eye for separating jests from what Duchamp meant in earnest; journalist and historian Marquis, a visiting scholar in history at the University of California-San Diego (Art Lessons: Learning from the Rise and Fall of Public Arts Funding) does an excellent job. Duchamp spent more time on his "persona," she charges, than his "extremely limited" series of works. In discussing Duchamp's long stint chess playing rather than overt art making, she compares Duchamp to other "disappearing acts" of French artistic life, creators like Gauguin who fled the spotlight to work in their own private corners, then shows how an American audience took this traditional approach as unusual and refreshing. In 12 chapters that include 16 pages of color plates (not seen by PW) and 65 b&w images, Marquis examines the artist's legacy, the way his jokes empowered dealers, artists and art historians, who in turn promoted pop, conceptual and postmodern art that also ridiculed the idea of art. Without taking any guff from Duchamp, and carefully treading between the real contributions and interview verbiage as if she were wearing hip boots, Marquis is a sane and sensible guide to the continually puzzling paradox of Duchamp. The book makes an excellent beginning point for readers who have seen some of the work and want to know more about man and myth. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
The grandfather of postmodernism and a consummate trickster, Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) remains one of the most complicated characters in art history. In addition to an intellectually demanding oeuvre, he made public statements about his life and work that were often elusive, even contradictory. Journalist and historian Marquis (Alfred H. Barr, Jr.) sets out to present what she feels is a much-needed objective look at the artist, the man, and the conundrum. Though she doesn't attempt to discredit Duchamp or previous Duchamp scholarship, she doesn't take his Olympian stature at face value either. Even Duchamp enthusiasts who might bristle at statements like "Duchamp's art, like tripe, is an acquired taste" will likely thrill to the previously unpublished interviews, letters, and bits of gossip contained here. This alone makes the sure-to-be-controversial biography a noteworthy addition to Duchamp scholarship. The uninitiated may want to start with Calvin Tompkins's more admiring Duchamp: A Biography, but this work is recommended to anyone who wants to explore further. With color plates of major works and candid snapshots of the artist and his circle. In contrast to Marquis's fresh approach, the monograph Marcel Duchamp presents solid but typical essays on the master by Duchamp scholars. One of curator Szeeman's goals is to elucidate Duchampian ideas and their effect on other artists, specifically Jean Tinguely. The publisher hoped to have this supersede previous volumes by reproducing individual works in a larger scale and by including some more obscure artwork. But consequently every item is given more or less equal visual importance, which may cause confusion about the actual size of the original. Still, this handsome and fairly comprehensive volume would be useful to libraries that don't already own Anne D'Harnoncourt's Marcel Duchamp, the retrospective catalog by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, New York.-Douglas McClemont, New York Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Journalist and historian Marquis tells the story of French-born American painter and all-around celebrity Duchamp (1887-1968). A substantially different version of the biography was published as by Whitson in 1980. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780878466443
  • Publisher: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • Publication date: 1/28/2002
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Alice Goldfarb Marquis, an award-winning journalist and historian, was born in Munich, Germany, and is now a visiting scholar at the University of California at San Diego. Her published works include Art Lessons: Learning from the Rise and Fall of Public Arts Funding, The Art Biz: The Covert World of Collectors, Dealers, Auction Houses, Museums, and Critics, and Alfred H. Barr, Jr.: Missionary for the Modern. In 2002, she published Marcel Duchamp: The Bachelor Stripped Bare (MFA Publications), which the Washington Times called 'the most sober appraisal yet of this artist.'
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Table of Contents

1. Why Duchamp? 3
2. Beginnings 13
3. An Extraordinary Curiosity 39
4. The Joy of Shocking 61
5. A Modern Leonardo 91
6. A Readymade Genius 109
7. The Pun Is Mightier than the Sword 147
8. Checkmate 179
9. Vacation in Past Time 211
10. Breathing 239
11. Anti-Fame 271
12. The Last Word 301
Marcel Duchamp: A Fond Memoir 313
Acknowledgments 315
Notes 317
Illustration credits 348
Index 353
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