gallery 52    
  • © Milan Golob ~ Bernardino D’achille (1893-1974), 2023, oil on canvas, 24×23 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Franz Baumgartner (1962-1983), 2023, oil on canvas, 18×25 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Lucia Grey Alexander (1814-1916), 2023, oil on canvas, 25×24 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Georg Jakob Strunz (1781-1852), 2023, oil on canvas, 27×25 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • Marguerite Huppi Crespin (1886-1970), title of painting not created yet.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Tanička Vrbovsková (1978-1982), 2023, oil on canvas, 19×24 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Risa Bauer (1896-1911), 2023, oil on canvas, 21×24 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Imrené Futo (1856-1946), 2023, oil on canvas, 24×23 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Dragica Pandža (1937-2014), 2023, oil on canvas, 24×26 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Lidija Jovanovič (1974-2021), 2023, oil on canvas, 24×25 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Lina Reuther (1834-1942), 2023, oil on canvas, 24×25 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Viera Grúniková (1906-1966), 2023, oil on canvas, 25×24 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Zorka Budin (1932-1939), 2023, oil on canvas, 18×25 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Sergej Kapus (1950-2023), 2023, oil on canvas, 25×28 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Jakov Greksa (2012-2013), 2023, oil on canvas, 18×21 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Elisa Dondi (1858-1939), 2023, oil on canvas, 24×24 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Marta Draković (1854-1939), 2023, oil on canvas, 24×25 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Aga Lafert (1884-1941), 2023, oil on canvas, 18×28 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Klara Kalman (1931-2023), 2023, oil on canvas, 21×24 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Patrick Winston McDonald (1943-2006), 2023, oil on canvas, 18×26 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Milka Lukančič (1932-2012), 2023, oil on canvas, 25×23 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Pia Ceneri (1848-1897), 2023, oil on canvas, 24×18 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Thaddäus Leonhard Voigt (1835-1925), 2023, oil on canvas, 18×24 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Silvestro Rino (1855-1939), 2023, oil on canvas, 21×25 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Natalija Rajh (1983-2007), 2023, oil on canvas, 26×18 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Josef Thaller (1820-1851), 2023, oil on canvas, 25×22 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Anica Zupanec (1857-1874), 2023, oil on canvas, 25×29 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~Erich Höll (1930-2020), 2023, oil on canvas, 18×21 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Charles Grant Francis Grey Birch (1866-1900), 2023, oil on canvas, 25×29 cm painted by Milan Golob.
  • © Milan Golob ~ Peter Weibel (1944-2023), 2023, oil on canvas, 18×28 cm painted by Milan Golob.
Bernardino D’achille (1893-1974), 2023, oil on canvas, 24×23 cm



A Little Game Between ‘I’ and ‘me’

Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 85
An Incunabulum of Conceptual Photography

(Part 2)*

* Herbert Molderings; Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 85: An Incunabulum of Conceptual Photography, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Konig, Köln, 2013, pp. 37-54, pp. 80-83. (Translated by John Brogden, Foreword by Dieter Bogner)
© 2013 Herbert Molderings and Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Konig, Köln


Part 1  ----   Part 3   Part 4



When Duchamp was asked by the curator Katherine Kuh in 1961 why he had such a strong need to distance himself as far as possible from the traditional forms of expression, he replied: “I was really trying to invent, instead of merely expressing myself. I was never interested in looking at myself in an aesthetic mirror. My intention was always to get away from myself, though I knew perfectly well that I was using myself. Call it a little game between ‘I’ and ‘me’.”[81] In 1911, in the painting Sad Young Man on a Train, Duchamp had for the first time made his own person the theme of his art. 1917 saw a change in medium when he visited the Broadway Photo Shop in New York to have a five-way portrait taken.[82] Such “multiphotographs,” which showed the subject simultaneously from the front, the back, and both sides and were produced with the aid of a relatively simple hinged-mirror trick, were part and parcel of the then popular genre of leisure and recreational photography.[83] Indeed, Roland Barthes recognized in the mirroring aspect of the photographic image one of its most important historical and aesthetic innovations. “Photography is the advent of myself as other, a cunning dissociation of the conscience of identity,” he writes in Camera lucida.[84] For Duchamp, this splitting of his photographic identity into five different faces marked the beginning of a whole series of artistic self-projections in the medium of photography, culminating, and also terminating, in 1945 in his self-portrait at the age of 85. While Duchamp’s masquerade portraits, mostly playful and mostly no bigger than a postcard, were indeed perceived as visual manifestations of the artist Marcel Duchamp, they were not considered as works of art. After all, their places of display were not art galleries or art museums but rather the pages of a periodical, a poster or the label of a perfume bottle.

Marcel Duchamp, Multi-portrait, 1917. (Photograph of Duchamp using a hinged mirror.) Photo: Broadway Photo Shop. 8.9 x 13.3 cm, Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou.

Marcel Duchamp, Multi-portrait, 1917. Photo: Broadway Photo Shop. 8.9 x 13.3 cm, Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou.

---- One of the myths of modernism is the notion that the Large Glass and the readymades marked the beginning of the desubjectification of modern art. We may indeed consider this true as regards a work’s inherent aesthetic, but not without reservation, for even if the artist disappeared entirely from his works, leaving no trace of his hand in their making, he could not escape public attention. On the contrary, there is hardly any other artist of the twentieth century who has been the object of profane veneration to the same extent as Marcel Duchamp. Once he had reached the front pages of the U.S. national dailies with his painting Nude Descending a Staircase in 1913 and, two years later, had emigrated to New York, the media began to take a very curious interest in the thoughts and ideas of an artist who not only seemed to be completely indifferent about success but had possibly discovered a new artistic language about which his fellow artists knew nothing. Duchamp reacted to the public’s growing interest in his person by surprising it with regular changes of identity. In 1918 he painted his last oil painting (Tu m’); in 1923 he completed his work on the Large Glass; from 1920 until 1924 he devoted himself almost entirely to the design and fabrication of optical machines. So who was he? Evidently no longer a painter. So what was he then? Who was this unpredictable personality? The puzzles he set for his collectors, his friends, and a small, readily surveyable avant-garde scene were complemented by a series of photographic portraits that were just as enigmatic as his artistic actions and decisions.

Man Ray: Marcel Duchamp as Rrose Sélavy, 1921. Gelatin silver print. The hat and hands in this photograph of Duchamp dressed as Rrose Sélavy belonged to Picabia’s companion Germaine Everling.

Rrose Sélavy, 1921.
Photo: Man Ray

---- Duchamp’s greatest fame was reaped by his self-portrayals as Rrose Sélavy, photographed by his friend Man Ray in 1921. The name of his alter ego, with which Duchamp signed his works — often in conjunction with his real name — until 1942, is a pun that says it all: Eros c'est la vie — Eros, that’s life. Duchamp was certainly familiar with Rimbaud’s famous dictum “je est un autre” [“I is someone else”], but his photographic metamorphosis Into a woman was not just an exploration of the “individual’s inner world, of the psychical structure of identity”[85] but also, and equally so, a deliberate game of confusion with his persona. From 1921 Duchamp used the medium of the photographic selfportrait to bring into circulation ever new identities of himself, each one being yet a further side to the artistic individual who went by the name of Marcel Duchamp and/or Rrose Sélavy. That the intention behind his photographic transformation into Rrose Sélavy was not to replace his male identity by a female one but rather to implement an aesthetic strategy aimed at a multiplication of identities is proved by the fact that in 1921 he not only disguised himself as a woman but also made an appearance as a “monk” amid members of the art public. The tonsure had been shaved into Duchamp’s hair by the Mexican graphic artist and caricaturist, Georges de Zayas, then living in Paris.[86] Unlike the Rrose Sélavy portrait, this self-portrayal did not take place just in front of a camera. For several weeks — Dada was having its heyday in Paris at that time — Duchamp, thus tonsured, actually appeared in person within a small circle of friends.[87] A good halt dozen photographs of this masquerade, taken by at least two different photographers, have survived.[88] The most representative among these photographs was again taken by Man Ray. Altogether contrary to Duchamp’s “image” as a hardboiled, market-oriented strategist, which is how American art critics during the Pop Art era saw him, this self-portrayal discloses Duchamp’s romantic ideal of the artist. Duchamp compared the life of an artist to that of a monk, “a lay monk, if you so wish, indeed, a very Rabelaisian one. But it is an ordination, no more and no less.”[89] The tonsure, the symbol of the individual’s subjugation to God, takes in Duchamp’s case the form of a starshaped comet, the tail of which is pointing forwards, a motif that harks back to a literary sketch of 1912 for a symbolist/ futurist painting of a car journey (Route Jura-Paris). The protagonist of this sketch is a “headlight child”, which “could, graphically, be a comet, which would have its tail in front.”[90] And to make the game even more confusing, still in 1921, Duchamp cut out a small piece from his “tonsure” portrait and stuck it on Francis Picabia’s painting L’Œil cacodylate, to which he then added the pun “en 6 qu’habilla rrose Sélavy,” thus linking the “tonsure” portrait with the figure of Rrose Sélavy.[91] And so it was that Duchamp, in 1921, had assumed two new identities with the aid of such staged photographic self-portraits. First he transformed himself into a woman and then, only a short time later, back into a man, into an “artist-monk” with an enigmatic comet tonsure.[92]

Man Ray: Tonsure, 1921. Gelatin silver print.

Tonsure, 1921.
Photo: Man Ray

---- Three years later, Duchamp again had his portrait taken by Man Ray, this time for a Monte Carlo Bond (Obligation pour la roulette de Monte Carlo).[93] This bond entitled the purchaser to a share in the winnings to be yielded by a roulette system at Monte Carlo. Using shaving cream in lieu of pomade, Duchamp shaped his hair for the portrait into wings reminiscent of the winged helmet of Hermes, the messenger of the Greek gods, who was famous for his shady dealings and was hence also the patron god of merchants — not excluding art dealers — and thieves. Duchamp sold each of these bonds for the tidy sum of 500 Francs and promised a dividend of 20%, but he was never able to pay it, as the system never yielded any winnings. The Monte Carlo Bond was much more profitable on the art market, where in the course of time its purchasing value increased a thousandfold.

---- While Duchamp loved self-presentations, disguises, and masquerades in front of the camera,[94] he strongly disliked being pigeonholed into a certain category of art by critics and fellow artists. The public recognition, the fame, that met him in the world of modern media, both verbally and visually, was seen by Duchamp as a constraining obligation to continue forever in the rut that success had brought with it. For decades, Duchamp was presented to the public not by name but as the man who, with his painting Nude Descending a Staircase, had provoked the biggest scandal in the more recent history of American art. When he said to Arturo Schwarz, “I don’t want to be pinned down to any position. My position is the lack of position,” he was of course referring first and foremost to his work, but this remark held just as well for his understanding of himself as an artist.[95] Just as he constantly turned this way and that in his art so as not to be associated with any particular standpoint or movement, so too did he constantly change his public image by circulating his self-portrait in ever new disguises and aspects. As Duchamp saw things, the artist in the modern media-oriented society was constantly on the run from the madding crowd and from art agents of every description: critics, gallery owners, collectors, and art historians, all of them doing their utmost to nail him down as an exponent of a certain school or movement. This dialectic of self-portrayal and self-withdrawal, so typical of the modern artist’s relationship to the public, was most aptly visualized by Duchamp in 1923 with his own artist’s poster — Wanted $2,000 Reward — a joke wanted notice, found in a New York restaurant, on which he replaced the photographs of the originally wanted person by portraits of himself in typical mugshot fashion, one in profile, the other full face.[96] Behind the fictitious name of the fugitive, a certain George W. Welch, who had operated a “bucket shop” in New York under the name of HOOKE, LYON and CINQUER, Duchamp added the words: Known also under the name RROSE SÉLAVY. How deeply and indelibly the image of the hunter and the hunted was to imprint itself upon Duchamp’s notion of the artist’s relationship to the public is demonstrated by the fact that, forty years later, he placed the WANTED notice in the middle of the poster announcing his first retrospective exhibition at the Pasadena Art Museum.[97]

Monte Carlo Bond, 1924. (Photocollage with a photo of Marcel Duchamp by Man Ray.) Duchamp founded a society for a game of chance – roulette - and sold bonds for 500 francs each to finance his playing. The face of the bond uses a Man Ray photo of Duchamp with a lathered head, his hair sculpted into the winged head of Mercury, the Roman God of commerce and science, and patron of thieves ad vagabonds.

Monte Carlo Bond, 1924.
Photo: Man Ray

---- The two juxtaposed portraits in View — one taken in profile, the other full face — also echo, albeit distantly, Duchamp’s wanted notice of 1923.[98] Indeed, it was the “Marcel Duchamp Number,” the first monographic publication to be dedicated to his work, that did precisely what the artist himself abhorred: his person, his work, and his artistic standpoint were stamped, categorized, and shelved. In view of the large number of contributors — more than a dozen befriended artists, writers, critics, curators, and gallery owners had contributed essays to this issue — the reader ought to have expected a broad and richly facetted panorama of Duchamp’s artistic endeavors and accomplishments. Instead, however, the descriptions of Duchamp’s artistic identity in the various essays are astonishingly unanimous. The picture presented of Duchamp is that of a “has been,” a painter who gave up painting twenty years ago and since then has been unable to find a new artistic agenda. With the exception of Breton’s introduction, most of the articles are in the spirit of a “prehumous” obituary. In the eyes of Harriet and Sidney Janis, Duchamp was the embodiment of the “anti-artist,” which is quite a remarkable assertion considering the fact that in the same paragraph they state quite positively that, despite his having turned away from art, he continued to create “new works,” albeit works “so unorthodox and so far removed from (...) painting and sculpture.”[99] Adopting a strictly orthodox surrealist stance, the literature and art theorist Nicolas Calas, who like Duchamp had emigrated from Paris to New York, portrayed him as the perfect revolutionary who challenged the traditional genres, ridiculed the adoration of the masterpiece, and sold to collectors and investors masterpieces “too fragile to last.”[100]

Wanted $2,000 Reward, 1923. Two-color offset lithograph, 20.7 x 16.2 cm, in: The Box in a Valise, 1941. Duchamp’s 1923 Dada skit on the trope of the artist-criminal, the Wanted $2,000 Reward readymade, in which Duchamp had appropriated a spoof Wild West-era poster, substituting his own image  for that of the supposedly wanted George C. Welch and appending Rrose Sélavy to the list of the outlaw’s aliases.

Wanted $2,000 Reward, 1923. Two-color offset lithograph, 20.7 x 16.2 cm,
in: The Box in a Valise, 1941.

---- The American art critic and specialist in sectarian religious movements, Robert Allerton Parker, observed in his article, “America Discovers Marcel,” that Duchamp had become “a sort of subversive guru to hundreds — possibly thousands” of people in the art scene.[101] Parker was a great admirer of Duchamp. He had already interviewed him in 1915 and had put him up in his apartment in Gracie Square during the first month following his, Duchamp’s, return to New York in 1942.[102] Parker could have easily substantiated his guru thesis simply by citing, before any of the other many Duchamp disciples, Charles Henri Ford and Parker Tyler, the editors of View, who, in dithyrambic eulogies, declaimed: “Marcel — mysterious as the internal changes of a star”[103] — “Duchamp: the chrysalis joyfully, maliciously, transcending the butterfly.”[104] It would be wrong, Parker stressed, to consider Duchamp primarily as an artist, for he was “an artist only incidentally,” the true key to his significance lying in his own self.[105] “His real life work has been to explore the depths of his own being, to maintain his own reality (...) he has, with subtle alchemy, transmuted the baser materials of life into the radiant myth of ‘Marcel’ — a masterpiece even more arresting than the Nude Descending a Staircase.”[106] It was precisely this “radiant myth of “‘Marcel’” that both the enigmatic autobiographical photomontage on the cover of View and the mysterious self-portrait “at the Age of 85« were meant to perpetuate.

---- Almost all of the contributors to the Duchamp issue of View sought less to embark upon an analysis of Duchamp’s work than to furnish a “portrait” of Duchamp as an artistic individual and human being. They were obviously of the opinion that Duchamp’s personality was either to be the focal point of attention or, if not that, then at least added to all his artistic doings and makings. Moreover, in approaching Duchamp in this way, they sought to fathom his inexplicable mystery: his break with painting, his apparent disinterest in success, his spontaneous charm and simultaneously impenetrable, incomprehensible character. These literary portraits were accompanied by paintings, photographs, and filmed images, including Man Ray’s portrait painting Rose cela vit of 1923, which Duchamp, as evidenced by a letter to Man Ray, absolutely wanted to include in the issue of View,[107] as well as the portrait photograph that Man Ray had taken for the Monte Carlo Bond.[108]

---- Duchamp responded to these portrayals, which with the exception of Kiesler’s photomontage Poéme espace dédié à H(ieronymous) Duchamp all harked back to the past, with a self-portrait from the future. Here Duchamp’s “little game between ‘T’ and ‘me’” seems to make direct reference to the contributions of two of his friends. The New York authoress, Ettie Stettheimer, with whom Duchamp had been friends since his first stay in America, had contributed a short story entitled “A Portrait” under the pseudonym “Henrie Waste.”[109] In this story, she reflects upon the changes that longstanding friends notice about one another when they meet up again after years of separation. The protagonist is a certain Pierre Delaire, who surprises Susanna, the character through whose eyes the story is told, with his “almost naked skull.” The story is illustrated with a photograph by Man Ray, taken in New York in 1920 and showing Marcel Duchamp with short-shorn hair. Indeed, the biographical context of the story is clearly Duchamp’s. Visible on the photograph, on the wall above Duchamp’s head, is another photograph by Man Ray showing a woman’s long, flowing mane of hair. With the loss of his hair, Delaire/Duchamp also loses his identity: “She [Susanna] thought rather that his delicate fairish classicality of a dry and cerebral quality had all of beauty except beauty’s peculiar thrill. And now, his head shorn of its most vital, fluid and adventurous feature, the long fair hair he brushed firmly back — now his almost naked skull, though in itself correct enough, revealed with brutal frankness the structural bony materiality of the whole. He looked even less vitalized, less sappy than before, she thought; more rigid, more ‘nature morte’. How horrible of me to think so.”[110] Susanna warns him not to tell her on any account why he has cut off his hair, for “Samson, you know, lost his strength with his hair: you seem to be in danger of losing your mystery!”[111] Duchamp’s self-portrait at the age of 85, apparently hairless (“almost naked skull”) and awakening associations with a life or death mask (“nature morte”), seems to have evolved, at least partially, from a dialogue with Ettie Stettheimer’s literary portrait. Contrary to the warning voiced by his New York friend, Duchamp’s loss of hair in no way made him lose his mystery, but posed yet another puzzle for his admirers and disciples.

Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Stella, New York, 1920. Photo: Man Ray.

Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Stella, New York, 1920.
Photo: Man Ray

---- While Duchamp’s self-portrait as an old man certainly echoes Stettheimer’s short story, it responds even more directly to Breton’s “Testimony 45,” the opening article to the Duchamp number of View.[112] Having maintained in this article that Duchamp’s Large Glass had the same significance for modern art that Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason had for modern philosophy, Breton ventured to assert that Duchamp was “the only one of all his contemporaries who is in no way inclined to grow older.”[113] Duchamp saw this far less euphorically and, at the end of all the homages and eulogies in View, furnished — in the form of a photograph showing how he himself would look at the age of 85 — the irrefutable proof that even he, Duchamp, was not immune to the ravages of time.

---- To be sure, Duchamp’s response both to the well-meaning warning given by his friend Ettie and to the effusive statement of André Breton’s, to whom he stood closer at that time than any other French artist or writer in New York,[114] was not without irony, and yet it was not just the dialogue with the two contributions from his friends that had prompted him to publish this self-portrait at an advanced age. Growing older had evidently become a problem for the then fifty-seven-year-old Duchamp. He already broached the theme back in 1942, when the changing physiognomy of his female alter ego Rrose Sélavy had made him decide to publish a surrogate portrait in the exhibition catalogue First Papers of Surrealism, namely a close-up of the haggard face of an American farmer’s wife. This photograph belonged to a series of so-called “compensation portraits,” which Duchamp and Breton had cut out of books and magazines and related, either through facial similarities or other aspects, to their fellow artist celebrities.”[115] Thus Matta, the youngest among the Surrealist painters in New York, was allocated the portrait of a bright youngster in a sailor suit, while André Masson made his appearance as an Eskimo and Max Ernst as an Old Testament prophet. For his own “compensation portrait,” Duchamp chose a cropped image from a photograph taken by the social-documentary photographer Ben Shahn of a farmer’s wife, prematurely aged through toil and deprivation, whose facial features did indeed bear a resemblance to Duchamp’s own.[116] This was the last image of Rrose Sélavy to be circulated by Duchamp. She was evidently beginning to show her age and, moreover, had suffered a social decline, no longer being the elegant, seductive, and well-heeled young lady she once was. In placing a reproduction of his painting Cemetery of Uniforms and Liveries of 1913 above this compensation portrait, Duchamp clearly associated the haggard, careworn face of the farmer’s wife with death.[117]

Page from exhibition catalogue First Papers of Surrealism, New York, 1945.

Page from exhibition catalogue First Papers of Surrealism,
New York, 1945

---- Three years later, Duchamp finally found himself able to come to terms with what Gottfried Benn called “ageing as a problem for artists,” no longer projecting it onto someone else but stepping in front of the mirror himself in the guise of an old man.[118] All the same, this glance into the future, into the last phase of his creative life, was altogether more optimistic than the surrogate portrait of Rrose Sélavy. There is nothing in the photograph of Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 85 that might hint at a loss of intellectual alertness and mental agility. Duchamp imagines spending the end of his life in full possession of his mental faculties. The choice of the pose — that of the introverted thinker with downcast eyes and prominent cranium — was possibly influenced by a drawing by the New York caricaturist, Marius de Zayas, which had been published in the magazine Camera Work in 1912 under the title L’accoucheur d’idées [The Midwife of Ideas].[119] Marius was the brother of the aforementioned graphic artist, Georges de Zayas, then living in Paris, who had shaved Duchamp’s comet-shaped tonsure. While the term “accoucheur d’idées” was exactly in keeping with Duchamp’s understanding of himself as an artist, his fictitious self-portrait as an old man has nothing of the inner turmoil of Marius de Zayas’s portrayal of the thinker. On the contrary, Duchamp casts himself, especially in the photograph without spectacles, wholly in the role of the inward-gazing artist-philosopher, entirely at one with himself.

Marius de Zayas, L‘accoucheur d'idées. From: Camera Work, 1912.

Marius de Zayas, L‘accoucheur d'idées.
From: Camera Work, 1912

---- In a letter penned at the beginning of 1946 to his clandestine lover in New York, the Brazilian sculptress Maria Martins,[120] Duchamp, who at the time was staying at the house of Mary Reynolds, his companion of the past twenty years or so, laments his mood of gloom and dwindling sexual powers: “I feel completely out of place, have not been able to make love, and feel more and more like ending it all.”[121] Biographical sources are unable to tell us whether this was just a momentary attack of depression or a more profound state of melancholia brought on by advancing age. One bizarre anecdote, written by Hélène Hoppenot, a close friend of Mary Reynolds, in her diary of 1949, may play a significant role in this present study, for it tells how Duchamp once encountered himself as an already dead artist: “Mary told me that Marcel Duchamp was invited one day by the director of a municipal museum in the United States and came across a picture postcard on the sales counter illustrating one of his works. He bought it. The caption on the back of the card gave the date of his birth ... and his death!”[122] The indicated time — “one day” — does not tell us how long before 1949 this “encounter” actually took place. If it did in fact take place before January 1945, it would be yet another addition to the already complex jigsaw puzzle of experiences, feelings, and thoughts — so difficult to piece together from surviving sources _ that inspired Duchamp to portray himself at the imaginary age of 85.




Part 1  ----   Part 3   Part 4


* Herbert Molderings; Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 85: An Incunabulum of Conceptual Photography, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Konig, Köln, 2013, pp. 37-54, pp. 80-83. (Translated by John Brogden, Foreword by Dieter Bogner)
© 2013 Herbert Molderings and Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Konig, Köln


[81] Katherine Kuh, “Marcel Duchamp,” in: idem, The Artist’s Voice, p. 83.
[82] Inventing Marcel Duchamp, p. 137; MacManus, “Trucage photographique,” pp. 94-111; Blunck, “Chimären im Spiegel,” pp. 3-14.
[83] Chaplot, La photographie récréative, pp. 37-41.
[84] Barthes, Camera lucida, p. 21.
[85] Quoted, in translation, from: Fritz Franz Vogel, The Cindy Shermans: inszenierte ldentitäten, p. 204.
[86] Lebel, Sur Marcel Duchamp, p. 98, caption to fig. 26: Marcel Duchamp: étoile rasée par Georges de Zayas, Patis, 1921; Franklin, “Portfolio: Photographs of or about Marcel Duchamp,” pp. 221-223.
[87] Ephemerides on and about Marcel Duchamp and Rrose Sélavy, November 1, 1921.
[88] Franklin: “Portfolio: Photographs of or about Marcel Duchamp,” pp. 221-223.
[89] Duchamp to Alexander Liberman (1960). Quoted, in translation, from: Liberman, Les Maitres de l'art contemporain, p. 57: La vie d'un artiste est comparable à celle d'un moine, d’un moine laïque si vous voulez, et même d'un moine très rabelaisien. Mais ce n'est ni plus ni moins qu‘une ordination.
[90] Sanouillet, Peterson (eds.), Salt Seller: The Writings of Marcel Duchamp, p. 26. [91] On one of the “tonsure” portraits Duchamp later wrote: Voici rrose sélavy 1921. (This is Rrose Sélavy 1921). See Inventing Marcel Duchamp, p. 159.
[92] Giovanna Zapperi associates Duchamp’s “tonsure” portrait with the ideological notion of the priest of art. Zapperi, “Marcel Duchamp’s Tonsure,” pp. 294-298.
[93] Schwarz: The Complete Works, p. 703, cat. no. 406.
[94] Ades, “Duchamp’s Masquerades,” pp. 94-114; Roth, Difference/ Indifference, pp. 14-30. Roth interprets Duchamp’s role plays within the context of his self-presentation as a dandy. The self-portrait of “Duchamp at the Age of 85« is mentioned in neither of these essays.
[95] Quoted from: Kuenzli, Naumann (eds.), Marcel Duchamp. Artist of the Century, p. 19.
[96] Inventing Duchamp, p. 196. — Between 1893 and 1912, Alphonse Bertillon, who systematized mugshot photography, also used this technique for the taking of self-portraits. See Le Photographe photographié. L’autoportrait en France 1850-1914, exhib. cat., Paris musées, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, 2004, p. 50.
[97] Inventing Duchamp, Plate 6s.
[98] Ibid., p. 196.
[99] Harriet and Sidney Janis, “Marcel Duchamp Anti-Artist,” View, no. 18. Theses of the same tenor are also to be found in Sidney Janis’s book Abstract & Surrealist Art in America, which had been published a few months previously and was discussed in detail in the Marcel Duchamp Number of View. Ibid., pp. 39-40. See also the half-page advertisement, ibid., p- 42. — On the aesthetic consequences of Duchamp’s “perte du métier” see: Didi-Huberman, La Ressemblance par contact, chapter entitled Formes critiques.
[100] Calas, “Cheat to Cheat,” View, p. 20. On Calas’s collaboration with View see Franklin, “Smoking Bottles,” p. 231.
[101] Parker, “America Discovers Marcel,” View, p. 33.
[102] Tomkins, Marcel Duchamp, p. 384.
[103] View, p. 37.
[104] Ibid.
[105] Ibid., p. 33.
[106] Ibid., p. s1.
[107] View, p. 35. — Letter from Duchamp to Man Ray dated 12/24/1944: “Can you send any documents (photographic or other) retracing our relationship over the last thirty years (...). For example, do you have a photo of your portrait of Rrose Sélavy?” Affectt Marcel, p. 247.
[108] View, p. 32. Dated here to 1925.
[109] View, pp. 34-35.
[110] View, p. 3s.
[111] Ibid.
[112] Naumann: Marcel Duchamp. The Art of Making Art, p. 161. The title “Testimony 45” probably refers to the difficulties experienced by French immigrants in obtaining the necessary documents for settlement in the USA. See Hopkins, “The Politics of Equivocation,” pp. 57—58.
[113] View, p. s.
[114] On December 17, 1944 Duchamp wrote to Henri-Pierre Roché in Paris: “Breton est le seul que je voie assez souvent”. See Correspondance Duchamp — Roché, p. 67.
[115] This technique was later adopted and varied, in 1996, by the French artist and writer Edouard Levé. See Ėdouard Levé: “Homonymes,” in: Les Cahiers du Musée national d’art moderne, no. 84, 2003, pp. 3-13.
[116] See entire photograph in Hopkins, “The Politics of Equivocation,” p. 56. On the social and political implications of Duchamp’s choice of photograph see: ibid, pp. 56-57.
[117] The painting is normally titled Réseaux des stoppages-étalon [Networks of Stoppages]. Schwarz, The Complete Works, p. 607, cat. no. 292. It was under this title that Duchamp had reproduced it only shortly before in his Boite-en-valise. Cf. Bonk, Marcel Duchamp. The Box in a Valise, p. 54. Thus it is all the more remarkable that, simply through a different title (Cemetery of Uniforms and Liveries), it should here be associated with death.
[118] Benn: Altern als Problem für Künstler.
[119] Naumann (ed.), How, When, And Why Modern Art Came To New York, p. 78.
[120] On the importance of Maria Martins in Marcel Duchamp’s life between the years of 1945 and 1951 see Naumann, “Marcel and Maria,” pp. 102-105; Taylor: Marcel Duchamp Ėtant donnés, pp. 26-32; Molderings: Die nackte Wahrbeit, op. cit., pp- 85-87, 130-133.
[121] Taylor: Marcel Duchamp Ėtant donnés, op. cit., p. 404, letter dated May 12, 1946: “Je suis complétement dépaysé, n’ai pas pu faire 'amour et j’ai de plus en plus envie de disparaitre.”
[122] See Franklin: “Mary Reynolds et Héléne Hoppenot. Confidences,” in: Ėtant donné Marcel Duchamp, pp. 134-35, entry dated December 30, 1949: “Mary me dit que Marcel Duchamp fut invité un jour par le conservateur d’'un musée d’une ville des États-Unis et qu'il aperçut au stand de vente une carte postale reproduisant une de ses ceuvres. Il 'acheta. Au dos, elle portait la date de sa naissance ... et de sa mort!”



A Little Game Between ‘I’ and ‘me’