Marcel Duchamp

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.

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