by Brandon Noll
Marcel Duchamp was a French Dada artist, whose small but
controversial output exerted a strong influence on the development
of 20th-century avant-garde art. Born on July 28, 1887, in
Blainville, France, near Rouen, brother of the artist Raymond
Duchamp-Villion and half brother of the painter Jacques Villion.
In 1904, he went to Paris, where he met artists who later led
modern art movements. Duchamp began to paint in 1908. Some
artists at the time were known as dadaists and surrealists. He was
influenced mostly by Paul Cezanne. After producing several
canvases in the current mode of Fauvism, he turned toward
experimentation and the avant-garde, producing his most famous
work, "Nude Descending a Staircase, in 1912; portraying
continuous movement through a chain of overlapping cubistic
figures, the painting caused a furor at New York City's famous
Armory Show in 1913. He painted very little after 1915, although
he continued until 1923 to work on his masterpiece. "The Bride
Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors," even an abstract work, also
known as "The Large Glass," composed in oil and wire on glass,
that was enthusiastically recieved by the surrealists.
In sculpture, Duchamp pioneered two of the main innovations
of the 20th century--kinetic art and ready-made art. His "ready-
mades " consisted simply of everyday objects , such as a urinal and
a bottle rack. His "Bicycle Wheel" an early example of kinetic art,
was mounted on a kitchen stool.
After his short creative period, Duchamp was content to let
others develop the themes he had originated; his pervasive influence
was crucial to the development of surrealism, Dada and pop art. He
settled in the United States in 1942. Duchamp became an
American citizen in 1955. He died in Paris on October 1, 1968.