gallery 53    
Magdalena Anckelmann (1688-1775), 2023, oil on canvas, 25×28 cm



Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 85

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

(Part 1)*

* Herbert Molderings; Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 85: An Incunabulum of Conceptual Photography, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Konig, Köln, 2013, pp. 5-36, pp. 72-80. (Translated by John Brogden, Foreword by Dieter Bogner)
© 2013 Herbert Molderings and Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Konig, Köln


----   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4



---- Foreword

Archives are treasure troves of surprises. The most exciting of documents often remain hidden for years before their moment of glory — their discovery, their academic treatment, their publication — finally comes. One such archive is that of the Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation, which was established in Vienna in 1997. The acquisition of Frederick Kiesler’s estate, its transport from New York to Vienna and its public access within the scope of a foundation had been made possible through the generous help of the Republic of Austria, the Municipality of Vienna and private patrons. Taking many years, the perusal and processing of thousands of drawings, plans and photographs as well as a cornucopia of texts and correspondence brought forth a great many new and exciting finds and findings. Among the biggest surprises was a typescript laconically titled “I was waiting for Marcel — it was 5.35 p.m. at 42 West 57 Str., January 13, 1945”. In this document, Frederick Kiesler, the Austro-American architect, designer, artist, stage designer and theoretician, describes with painstaking attention to detail the production of a portrait photograph of “Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 85” in the studio of a New York photographer. The euphoria triggered by this discovery was naturally closely bound up with questions concerning its possible academic treatment and first-ever publication. Herbert Molderings, an outstanding Duchamp researcher and photography historian, obligingly took up this exciting challenge. Kiesler’s typescript turned out to be the key to the hitherto unsolved enigma posed by the photograph of Marcel Duchamp published in the magazine View in 1945.

---- Molderings” findings not only accord this famous portrait photograph of Marcel Duchamp its proper place in the artist’s œuvre but also raise further questions that are worthy of consideration: questions concerning, for example, the reasons why Kiesler/Duchamp decided on the use of an objective, emotionless style for a description of the happenings in the photographer’s studio manifesting the utmost attention to technical detail, such that the account of the process of producing the portrait seems to capture the scene with the precision of a short film sequence. Constituting an equally fascinating subject for research are the historically relevant points of contact in both the practical and the theoretical work of these two artists, whose ways of thinking and acting, despite their differences, both transcended existing conventions. Also worthy of particular attention in this connection is the personal relationship between Stefi and Frederick Kiesler and Marcel Duchamp. Just as sober as the title “T was waiting for Marcel ...”, though operating on a completely different level, is the entry in Stef1 Kiesler’s desk diary of October 2, 1942: “cleaned Marcel’s room”. This terse note marked the beginning of the Kieslers’ life with their lodger Marcel Duchamp in their New York penthouse (56, 7th Avenue), a period of cohabitation that was to last until October 1943. The intense personal relationship between these three friends, who had already got to know one another in Paris during the 1920s, continued until 1948, when it came to an end that was as abrupt as it was mysterious. The entries in Stefi’s diary, which cover the period from the beginning of the 1930s until well into the late 1950s, mainly concern appointments and get-togethers with the Kieslers’ friends and acquaintances: they are a veritable “Who’s Who” of the New York art scene, complete with the dates and, often, the places of their meetings with individuals and groups. It was in this milieu, populated largely by exiled European artists, that Stefi Kiesler was able to function as an important mediator between artistic activities in Europe and the United States, not least by reason of her post in the Foreign Languages Department of the New York Public Library.

---- Between 1933 and 1951, Stefi noted the name of their friend Marcel Duchamp in her diaries as many as 122 times (17 times in 1942, 15 times each in 1943 and 1945, and 45 times in 1947, the year of Kiesler’s and Duchamp’s collaboration on the international exhibition “Le Surréalisme en 1947” at Galerie Maeght in Paris). At first she referred to him as “Marcel Duchamp”, but then more and more frequently simply as “Duchamp” and latterly just by his forename “Marcel”. This circumstance is worthy of special mention inasmuch as Stefi Kiesler referred to only a very few of their common friends by their forenames in her diary, this being a sign of particularly close friendship.

---- The Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation is most indebted to Herbert Molderings both for his erudite treatment and publication of Frederick Kiesler’s typescript, which has shed new light on the œuvre of Marcel Duchamp, and for the impulse his study has given for the further evaluation of this find at the archive of the Kiesler Foundation.

Austrian Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation




View. Marcel Duchamp Number, March 1945. Last page (detail).

View. Marcel Duchamp Number, March 1945.
Last page (detail)


In 1945, in an essay published in the American avant-garde magazine View, Harriet and Sidney Janis observed that while Marcel Duchamp had “stopped painting more than twenty years ago” new works “continue[d] to come into being,” but these works were “so unorthodox and so far removed from (...) painting and sculpture” that they were “scarcely recognizable as the products of creative activity.”[1] It was indeed the case that Duchamp had during the previous two decades been exercising his artistic fantasy on tasks that at that time did not count as art, such as the fabrication of optical toys (Rotoreliefs), the installation of a doorway for a gallery (Porte de Gradiva), the making of a pocket chess set, the designing of book and magazine covers, the organizing and designing of exhibitions, the dressing of shop windows, and the invention of a portable museum in a suitcase (Boîte-en-valise).[2] Duchamp’s activity in these artistically ephemeral fields of creativity were guided by a thought that he had already noted down, in the form of a question, as early as 1913: “Can one make works that are not art?”[3] One of Duchamp’s - most remarkable works, which for almost half a century was not in fact recognized as a work of art, was published in the “Marcel Duchamp Number” of the magazine View, and in the very same issue as the one in which the Janises had published their clairvoyant observations.

---- The work in question was a photographed self-portrait of Duchamp, which was featured at the end of the magazine as the culmination of a dozen articles on his work penned by befriended artists, writers, critics, and dealers. Of modest format, barely larger than a passport photo (5.5 ×4.6 cm), the photograph shows the introverted, somewhat melancholic physiognomy of an old man.[4] The face is illuminated not from the front or the side, as is usual in portrait photography, but from above and at a steep angle. A beret, which covers the subject’s hair and seems to hover over his high forehead like a black halo, lends the face a mask-like appearance. Appropriately, in keeping with his apparently advanced age, Duchamp is wearing a pair of spectacles, the rims of which, by dint of the strong lighting, cast deep shadows on the lower part of his face and heighten the impression of gauntness. The dull lenses and the unshaven chin awaken associations with a somewhat unkempt old man. Duchamp is leaning his head slightly downwards, looking not in the direction of the camera but inwardly, as though he is already reconciled with the world. The caption of the portrait reads: “Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 85.” At that time, however, Duchamp was only 58. How, then, was such a portrait possible? Duchamp’s physiognomy seems completely natural. On account of the small format and the poor quality of print, there are no signs of make-up or disguise. Perhaps the indicated age of “85” is a misprint, a simple twist of numbers? The answer must be no, for this photograph does not stand alone in View but is paired with another portrait photograph taken by the famous photographer Alfred Stieglitz in 1922 and captioned “Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 35.”[5] The years prominently indicated above the two photographs are 1922 and 1972 respectively. Thus our immediate confusion when confronted by these two photographs and their respective indications of age and year cannot but lead us to assume that the portrait of Duchamp in his dotage is a photograph from the future, from the year 1972, but this is not only technically infeasible but also biologically impossible, as Duchamp died in 1968.

---- That this portrait of Duchamp at the age of 85 meant more to Duchamp than the mere production of pictorial material for publication in View is underscored by the fact that he displayed the original photograph, mounted on white board, in the shop window of the New York bookshop Gotham Book Mart only a month after its publication in the said magazine.[6] The surrealist window display, which featured an almost naked female window dummy with a water tap protruding from her thigh, had been designed by Duchamp to mark the publication of André Breton’s prose poem Arcane 17. It had first been installed in the shop window of the book publisher Brentano’s, but angry protests from the League of Women necessitated its dismantling after only a few hours, whereupon it was reinstalled in the shop window of the Gotham Book Mart in 47th Street, where it remained on show for an entire week.[7]

Marcel Duchamp, Window installation for Arcane 17, by André Breton, at Gotham Book Mart, 1945. Silver gelatin print, 19.6 × 15.7 cm. Centre Georges Pompidou, Bibliothèque Kandinsky. Displayed on the bottom right is the photograph of Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 85.

Marcel Duchamp, Window installation for Arcane 17, by André Breton, at Gotham Book Mart, 1945. Silver gelatin print, 19.6 × 15.7 cm. Centre Georges Pompidou, Bibliothèque Kandinsky.
Displayed on the bottom right is the photograph of Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 85.

---- There is no knowledge of any documentary evidence to the effect that this portrait photograph was at the time regarded a work of art, nor is there any reference to any copyright or claim to authorship under the reproduction of the photograph in View. Thus it was that for many decades it remained unclear whether the photograph was a self-portrait or the work of a portrait photographer. It is mentioned neither in Robert Lebel’s monograph Sur Marcel Duchamp of 1959, nor in Arturo Schwarz’s catalogue raisonné The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp of 1968, nor was it exhibited in the large retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1973 and the Musée National d’art moderne at the Centre Pompidou in 1977. The exhibition catalogue of the Museum of Modern Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art clearly reveal the status that this portrait photograph “enjoyed” at that time. As the curators of the exhibition obviously did not know what to make of this extraordinary photograph from the future and, moreover, refused to recognize it as a self-portrait of Duchamp, it was not included in the exhibition but simply placed among the illustrations in the “Chronology” section.[8] There was, however, one exception in the long history of disregard for this witty and ephemeral work of art: in the spring of 1958, the Paris surrealist painter and essayist, Marcel Jean, had embarked upon a research trip across the United States in preparation for a book on Surrealism and stayed a whole week in New York with Marcel and Alexina Duchamp in their apartment at 327 East 28th Street.[9] Together they visited Philadelphia in order to the large Arensberg Collection of Duchamp’s works at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and also the Barnes Collection in nearby Merion. As a parting gift, Duchamp gave him an original print of his portrait “at the age of 85” and a reproduction of his portrait taken by Stieglitz in 1923.[10] While the fact that he made a gift of both photographs clearly shows how important their dual publication in View actually was for Duchamp, this concept was not observed by Marcel Jean when he published his book Histoire de la peinture surréaliste, tor the portrait “at the age of 85” was published without the Stieglitz portrait.[11] What is quite remarkable, however, is that this portrait was not integrated into the copy, as was usually the case with the portraits of most of the other artists, but rather placed on a double page together with paintings by Picabia, Man Ray, Magritte among others.

---- The portrait in Marcel Jean’s possession is a variant of the portrait illustrated in View. The pose, facial expression, lighting, and taking angle are the same on both photographs, but Duchamp is not wearing spectacles on this photograph, contrary to the photograph published View.[12] This tiny detail makes an enormous difference. While in the portrait in View the face is partially hidden by the spectacles and the shadows cast by them blur the subject’s physiognomy, the facial features on the photograph without the spectacles are clear and even. The beret creates the impression that the subject’s high, ghastly pale forehead does not extend beyond the hairline, such that the face is so shaped that it seems to end at the outer contour of the brow, awakening associations with a life or death mask. Such associations are strengthened by the fact that the subject’s gaze is not directed towards the lens of the camera, that is to say, towards an imaginary viewer, but rather inwardly, with his head bowed slightly in the manner of an aged, ascetic thinker. His eye sockets are so much in shadow that it is difficult to make out whether the eyes are open or even completely closed. Unlike the portrait in View, this portrait makes Duchamp’s face appear spiritualized to a high degree, though this is ascribable less to the subject’s concentrated, inwardly directed mien than to the peculiarity of the lighting, which created the impression that his face was shining from within.

Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 85, 1945. Photo: Percy Rainford. Silver gelatin print, 16.8 ×x 11.9 cm. Private Collection.

Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 85, 1945. Photo: Percy Rainford.
Silver gelatin print, 16.8 ×x 11.9 cm. Private Collection.

---- After the original print from Marcel Jean’s collection had been exhibited in the Marcel Duchamp exhibition at the Ronny Van de Velde Gallery in Antwerp in 1991,[13] Arturo Schwarz included the same portrait photograph in his revised and extended catalogue raisonné on Marcel Duchamp in 1996, but not without committing two factual errors.[14] Firstly, it was not this photograph that had been reproduced in View but a variant with spectacles and, secondly, the photograph was not an “anonymous photograph” thought to have been appropriated by Duchamp because it bore certain physiognomic similarities to him.[15] After the author’s discussion of “Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 85” in his essay “Die Fotografie des Möglichen. Von Marcel Duchamp bis Anna und Bernhard Blume” [Photography of the Possible. From Marcel Duchamp to Anna and Bernhard Blume] in 1999 against the foil of Duchamp’s technique of the staged self-portrait and his so-called “compensation portraits,” and, three years later, its full-page reproduction in the catalogue of the exhibition Marcel Duchamp at the Jean Tinguely Museum in Basel,[16] the portrait photograph has been exhibited and reproduced on many occasions[17] and also been frequently discussed in the literature on Duchamp.[18] The original print of the portrait published in View, measuring 17 × 11.6 cm and showing Duchamp wearing spectacles, had remained in Duchamp’s possession until his death and was shown for the first time in the exhibition Inventing Marcel Duchamp: The Dynamics of Portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington in 2009.[19] Following the death of Duchamp’s widow in 1995, the print was donated by her children, Jacqueline, Paul, and Peter Matisse, in memory of their mother, to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A comparison with the original print showed that the head-and-shoulder portrait published in View had been cropped on all four sides.

---- Right up until the present, the portrait has puzzled Duchamp scholars. Who was the photographer? Did he take it himself with the aid of a self-timer? How did he manage to make himself look twenty-seven years older so convincingly?

---- Without any relevant sources, these questions could be answered only on the basis of speculation. Arturo Schwarz, the author of the catalogue raisonné on Duchamp, ventured the theory that the subject of the portrait was not Marcel Duchamp at all but rather a complete stranger who just looked like him. The artist, he writes, had simply found the portrait photograph in 1945 and published it in View as a self-portrait “at the age of 85.” Duchamp’s biographer Bernard Marcadé can explain Duchamp’s suddenly aged appearance only on the assumption that the photograph was heavily retouched.[20] There are, however, no signs of any retouching on either of the original prints. Judith Housez assumes in her Duchamp biography of 2006 that the photograph is a montage,[21] but neither of the original prints manifests the typically sharp edges of a negative or positive photomontage or any typical signs of multiple exposure.

---- It was Michael Taylor, the former curator of modern art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, who in 2009 identified the New York photographer Percy Rainford as the photographer who took the photographs.[22] After studying the original print in the museum’s collection and noticing the white, powdery particles on the chin stubble, eyebrows, and hairline, Taylor put forward the theory that the portrait photograph must have something to do with the making of Duchamp’s life mask, which the New York sculptor and life-casting specialist, Ettore Salvatore, had made at some hitherto unknown point in time. He assumed that the portrait “at the age of 85” had been taken immediately after removal of the mask, “as Duchamp’s face, stubble, and hairline reveal traces of a powdery substance consistent with the plaster that would have been used for his life mask”[23] and consequently dates the making of the life mask to the same year as that of the photograph.[24] While Taylor had correctly identified the photographer of the portraits of “Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 85,” his speculations as to how and why the photographs were taken took a wrong turn, as Frederick Kiesler’s never-before-published draft article in the appendix to this publication proves. Kiesler had assisted Duchamp with his self-portrayal in Percy Rainford’s studio. In a ten-page typescript, which is kept in the archive of the Austrian Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation in Vienna, Kiesler gives a detailed account of how Duchamp uses a black eyeliner pencil and white powder to lend his face the features of an old man and, accoutered with black tie and beret, struck the pose of an old, ascetic artist, deeply sunk in thought.


Frederick Kiesler’s draft article

Around the time the photograph was taken, Duchamp was a close friend of the architect, artist, and designer Frederick Kiesler. They had probably first gotten to know one another in 1925,[25] but their acquaintanceship did not turn into friendship until 1937, when Kiesler published such a precise and well-founded analysis of the Large Glass[26] that Duchamp saw in him a like-minded thinker and artist.[27] When Duchamp emigrated from occupied France to New York in June 1942, he first stayed as a lodger, until October 1943, with Stefi and Frederick Kiesler in their penthouse on Seventh Avenue. This was the beginning of an intensive exchange and close collaboration between the two artists, which was to last a whole six years.[28] For the opening exhibition of Peggy Guggenheim’s Gallery, Art of this Century, in autumn 1942, for example, Kiesler invented a new kind of viewing device for Duchamp’s most recent work, the Boîte-en-valise [The Box in a Valise].[29] In the following year they together published the so-called “Twin Touch Test” in VVV magazine (nos. 2—3). With this test, the reader was supposed to let the fingertips of both hands glide to and for over a piece of chicken wire, which was shaped like a female torso and inserted into the back of the cover, and to continue doing so until he could answer the question: “Is it an unusual feeling of touch?”[30] Five prizes were to go to the best readers’ descriptions of the feeling of touch experienced during the test. Kiesler’s contribution to this experiment was probably limited to the wording of the prize offer that accompanied the test, while the actual test object on the back cover of the magazine had doubtless been conceived by Duchamp,[31] for it was precisely of the same ilk as the artistic experiments he was carrying out at that time on sensations experienced at the very limits of human perception, for which he had coined the term “infra-mince” [infra-thin].[32] The “Twin Touch Test” typically exploits the phenomenon by which, after gliding to and for over a piece of chicken wire, the fingertips of one hand and those of the other feel like the surfaces of foreign bodies when they subsequently touch one another. In matters concerning such experiments of perception, Kiesler was probably Duchamp’s most competent artistic interlocutor in New York at that time, as he had been the initiator and director of the Laboratory for Design Correlation at Columbia University between the years of 1937 and 1942 and as such was intensively involved in the psychology of visual perception.?[33]

---- When the publishers of View magazine informed him in December 1944 that they were planning a Duchamp Number for March of the following year, Duchamp immediately involved Kiesler in this project. On the 22nd of the same month they met in the editor’s office in order to discuss the concept of the planned View issue.[34] Duchamp then asked a good dozen befriended artists, writers, dealers, and curators to contribute to it.[35] Judging from a letter written by Duchamp to Henri-Pierre Roché, the preparations for this issue during the first months of 1945 were evidently Duchamp’s most important artistic activity. “I have succeeded in living here almost like in Paris, i.e., in avoiding public life (exhibitions, cocktails, parties),” he writes to his friend in Paris. “Nonetheless, I have had to help with the production of an issue of ‘View’.”[36] On the six pages allocated to him by the editors of the magazine, Kiesler produced a kind of “correalistic” portrait of Marcel Duchamp entitled Poème espace dédié à H(ieronymous) Duchamp [Space poem dedicated to H(ieronymous) Duchamp].[37] It was a complicated photomontage in the form of a triptych featuring a number of foldout pages and showing Duchamp in his new studio in 14 th Street, living and working like a hermit in the chaos of a cell overflowing with tools, garbage, and daily clutter. No other portrait in View came anywhere near this photomontage in terms of intellectual complexity and painstaking printing skill. Extending the Surrealist technique of the object poem [poème objet] into the three-dimensional, Kiesler created from a large number of photographs of the city of New York, of Duchamp’s studio, and his window works the fascinating image of a poetical space in which everything merged together: indoors and outdoors, the studio and the city, the human being and his surroundings. Flanked by his window works Fresh Widow and Brawl at Austerlitz on the outside walls, Duchamp, the calming influence in this complex weave of real and imaginary lines of force, seems to be living in the middle of the Large Glass.[38] The photomontage is integrated into an intellectual portrait in the style of visual poetry that represents, with the aid of hieroglyphics, chess diagrams and ‘line pictures,’ Duchamp on three further pages as an “artiste-inventeur” inspired by the logic of chess who has his equal in no one but Raymond Roussel.[39] As the typescript informs us, Kiesler had the necessary studio photographs for this photomontage taken by Percy Rainford on January 11, 1945, the very same photographer to whose studio he then came two days later in order to collect the prints[40] and also to assist Duchamp with the taking of his self-portrait “at the age of 85.”

Frederick Kiesler: Poème espace dédié à H(ieronymous) Duchamp, photomontage in View, 1945. Recognizable on the shelf, top left, is the Bordeaux bottle prepared by Duchamp for the View cover.

Frederick Kiesler: Poème espace dédié à H(ieronymous) Duchamp, photomontage in View, 1945. Recognizable on the shelf, top left, is the Bordeaux bottle prepared by Duchamp for the View cover.

---- According to an advertisement in a 1937 issue of Art Digest, Percy Rainford was a freelance photographer “specializing in works of art, interiors.”[41] Numerous American museum archives contain photographs of works of art taken by Rainford. Duchamp, too, had occasionally availed himself of his services for the reproduction of art works, as evidenced by several prints in the “Alexina and Marcel Duchamp Papers” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.[42] Rainford, who was appreciated as a particularly low-cost reproduction photographer, had between the years of 1942 and 1944 supplied photographic copy work for VVV magazine, whose “editorial advisers” also included Duchamp.[43] Duchamp met Rainford and Kiesler on January 1, for a two-hour discussion, probably about, among other things, the preparations for the photo session in his studio on January 11.[44] Thus Duchamp was already well acquainted with Rainford when he came to the photographer’s studio on January 13, 1945 for the taking of the fictitiously aged portrait.

---- Kiesler remembers Rainford as a white-skinned Afro- American, “a Negro with a certain paleness, the down of a white man’s skin. A combination which pleases both races.”[45] This may explain why Rainford had since the 1920s been able to practice his profession in the American art scene without any problems. According to Kiesler’s typescript, Rainford had two men in his employment in 1945, a young Afro-American apprentice and a laboratory assistant.[46] Rainford lived and worked in a studio located in an old brownstone on 57th Street, “with no name-card in the entrance hall, semi-anonymously, perched at the very end of a sinister corridor, in one room and two niches, one used for developing and one for printing, the whole habitat half artist’s studio, half machine shop, lit by one meager window looking out into the prison yard formed by crumbling apartment houses leaning on one another.”[47] At the very beginning of his typescript, Kiesler describes the antiquated, gas-fired drying machine on which the wet prints were dried.[48] Evidently just as old as this “toasting machine”[49] was the antediluvian large-format studio camera, “the type you see only in posters advertising portrait photography on boardwalks or in Luna Parks,” the type of camera on which the cassette had to be changed after each photograph.[50] Anyone reading Kiesler’s account cannot but be surprised at the haste in which Duchamp left the studio, with the two finished prints, immediately after the portrait sitting. The entire operation cannot have lasted even an hour. Duchamp had arrived at 5.35 p.m. and left the studio again around 6.15 p.m., as he had to be “downtown” at 7.00 p.m., but first had to go back to his apartment in 14 Street in order to remove his make-up, shave off his stubble, and change into other clothes.[51] The prints were probably contact prints from sheet film, which could be easily developed and dried in twenty to thirty minutes.[52] That Rainford did in fact make only one contact print from each of the negatives, which also tallies with the surviving originals,[53] is substantiated by a sentence in Kiesler’s typescript: “(...) out came the photographer, laughing, the palms of his two hands holding towards us two dripping prints of the photographs he had taken a few minutes before.”[54]

---- In his diary of 1959, Kiesler gives a revealing characterization of Percy Rainford’s style as a portrait photographer: “He is the only photographer I know who portrays with sharpness and exactitude what the camera, not his own eye, sees, and that is a very rare quality in times such as ours when every member of our society not only believes in himself as a great personality, but also forces any type of mechanical equipment to show personality too.”[55] This objectivity of style was probably one of the reasons — the other reason doubtless being the photographer’s reasonable fees — why Duchamp decided to have his portrait “at the age of 85” taken by Rainford. He had no need for any subjective interpretation of his person by the photographer — this he could furnish himself with the aid of make-up and disguise — but simply a technically precise photograph. It is not least for this reason that Rainford is in Duchamp’s eyes not the author of the photograph but merely the operator of the camera. Indeed, Kiesler’s account of the portrait sitting in Rainford’s studio clearly states that Duchamp had taken all the creative decisions himself. He was in complete charge, both over the transformation of his face with the aid of the make-up and the beret and over the choice of lighting and background. Kiesler writes: “He [the photographer] was now putting up a roll of white paper in the background; Marcel interrupted him — and me in my make-up work — and asked for a black background.[56] (...) Marcel insisted that the light must come from high up so as to make the shadows in the face sharp.”[57] Having read Kiesler’s account, we can now understand why Duchamp did not declare Percy Rainford as the author of the portrait “Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 85” in View magazine, while the other portrait taken in 1923 was clearly acknowledged as Stieglitz’s work. Duchamp clearly considered this portrait to be a self-portrait, the photographer assisting only in a technical and not in an artistic sense.

---- Kiesler’s typescript is not merely a memorandum for some later reference but the draft of a planned article, as the typescript itself clearly states in the passage describing Duchamp’s preparations for the View cover: “You [Duchamp] said you would then have a print made from the tiny block, enlarge it to this magazine’s format of 7 by 10 (...)” — a sentence from which it is clear that the article was to be published in “this magazine,” that is to say, in the Duchamp number.[58] At the end of the type-script, the author asks Duchamp: “As they are unfortunately illegible on the bottle, may I now ask your permission to reproduce in this article [my italics] the personal particulars of your military document (...)? ‘But of course,’ Marcel replied. And here is the document.”[59] Thus the article was to end with a legible reproduction of the page of Duchamp’s military ID pass containing his personal particulars, which had been printed on the label of the bottle featured on the front cover but then rendered illegible through the use of a coarse half-tone screen.

Personal particulars from Marcel Duchamp's military ID pass of 1905.

Personal particulars from Duchamp's military ID pass of 1905.

---- Duchamp’s discussion with Kiesler about the possibility of using the personal particulars of his military ID pass from the period before the First World War as an illustration of a biographical article on the artist is echoed in the writings found after Duchamp’s death. In a note that probably dates from the time when he was working on the special issue of View, Duchamp writes: “Episodic catalogue. Title page — reproduction 1st page of military ID pass — / arranged according to years — changes of location and pictures done in the year / for those not reproduced in the box perhaps indicate not reproduced / Only for the limited edition 10 or 15 copies.”[60] While Kiesler had planned to use the first page of Duchamp’s military ID pass as the final illustration for his article in View, Duchamp is apparently reflecting here on the possibility of using it for the title page of a catalogue of his works, a catalogue that would accompany the limited edition of the magazine and feature in particular a chronological arrangement of the artist’s works according to his episodic travels and changes of abode.[61] When he was asked by his friend Henri-Pierre Roché eight years later to submit a suggestion for the cover of the book Souvenirs sur Marcel Duchamp on which he, Roché, was working at the time, Duchamp fell back on his idea of 1945 and sent Roché a photograph of the first page of his military ID pass, recommending that he depict it on the front cover exactly as it was, “including the much-thumbed corners.”[62] This planned publication, however, never reached fruition.

View, Marcel Duchamp Number, March 1945. Front cover (detail).

View, Marcel Duchamp Number, March 1945.
Front cover (detail)

---- As regards its content, Kiesler’s typescript comprises two parts. The first two thirds concern the staging and taking of the portrait of “Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 85” and the last third describes the preparation of a Bordeaux bottle in Duchamp’s studio, its photographic reproduction by Percy Rainford and the complicated halftone screening of this reproduction for the photomontage on the front cover of View. As regards its style, the article reads like a “making-of” of Duchamp’s pictorial contributions to the special number of View. Using reportage-like language, the author takes the reader “behind the scenes” and describes from the perspective of a friend and close confidant of the artist how the imaginary self-portrait of Duchamp in his dotage and the enigmatic cover image of a smoking wine bottle against a nocturnal, starry sky were actually made. Kiesler’s chosen place for the narrative is the studio of the photographer Percy Rainford, where the time lines of the preceding three weeks of his and Duchamp’s work for the Duchamp number of View now converge. Rainford is nowhere mentioned by name, only as “the photographer.”[63] Kiesler and Duchamp meet in his studio in order to collect the prints of the photographs Rainford took for them a few days previously. Duchamp also wishes to have contact prints made from a roll of film and, much more importantly, to have his portrait taken “at the age of 85.”

---- Just as Kiesler visually combines in the aforementioned “space poem’” real and fictitious, indoor and outdoor spaces into an imaginary environment, so too does he link in the draft of his article different levels of time and weaves into the description of the making-up and photographing of Duchamp in his dotage an account of both past and planned activities, enabling the reader to learn something about Duchamp’s other projects for this special number of View: about the enigmatic image for the magazine cover and also about the planned — though not realized — idea of printing consecutively on each page of the magazine a contact print of one of the seventy-two negatives of a roll of film, which would then give the effect of a moving picture — after the fashion of a flicker book — when the reader rapidly flipped through the pages of the magazine. What was actually shown on the film is not known.[64] Kiesler’s draft article affords the reader an insight into the making of Duchamp’s pictorial contributions to the magazine at a moment when things were still in a state of flux and nothing had been decided in detail. What cannot fail to astonish us about Duchamp’s way of working is the simplicity of the means with which he is able to create the most enigmatic of images: a bottle, some glue, some powdered cardboard, and a page from a military ID pass for the magazine cover; some white powder, an eyeliner pencil, and a three-day beard for an imaginary old-age portrait.

---- The draft article was probably written relatively soon after the portrait sitting. Duchamp had still spoken during the sitting about having himself photographed at the age of 84. Had Kiesler already been informed about Duchamp’s intention to change his age to 85, he would certainly have mentioned it. The fact that he did not even correct this detail later is in itself an indication that the article was intended for the Marcel Duchamp Number of View and, after its publication, had lost its relevance. The fact that Duchamp, at the end of the script, grants Kiesler permission to print the page of his military ID pass, on which the label of the Bordeaux bottle had been based, supports the theory that he had been initiated into the article project from the very beginning. What actually happened between the drafting of the script and the printing of the Marcel Duchamp Number, and why the article was not published in the end, cannot be reconstructed from existing source material. That the editors were in fact interested in an article in the style of a “making-of” of Duchamp’s pictorial contributions to an issue specially devoted to his life and work is proven by a small column on the inner title page entitled “I Cover the Cover,” in which Peter Lindamood, a journalistically active army corporal and a friend of the editor Charles Henri Ford, imparts to the reader details of the making of the cover montage as described by Kiesler in his article draft, adding a few more details and making them out to be personal information from Marcel Duchamp himself.[65] Asked fifty-five years later, Ford could not remember the circumstances surrounding the planning and publication of the Duchamp number.[66] The only thing that was indelibly imprinted on his memory was the enormous cost of printing the triptych photomontage: “It cost a lot of money. I think it broke our budget.”[67] The size and scope of View differed considerably from one issue to the next, depending on the available funds and contributions. The issue that had preceded the Duchamp number was forty-eight pages thick,[68] while the one that followed it contained only thirty pages.[69] Although the 54- page Duchamp number was one of the largest issues of View, there was apparently no longer any space for Kiesler’s lengthy article following the influx of all the essays by Duchamp’s friends and admirers, but only for a narrow column like that of Peter Lindamood’s on the inner title page. After all, Kiesler was, both as an author and an artist, already more present than any other contributor, for his “correalistic” Duchamp portrait covered a whole six pages. Instead of his long article, Kiesler then published a brief commentary on his photomontage entitled “Les Larves d'Imagie d’Henri Robert Marcel Duchamp” [Henri Robert Marcel Duchamp’s World of Images in its Larva State].[70] Here Kiesler utilized Duchamp’s other forenames, Henri and Robert, the existence of which — according to his typescript — had been unknown to him until he read the personal particulars of Duchamp’s military ID pass used for the label of the Bordeaux bottle.”[71]

---- Kiesler begins his draft article with the suspenseful sentence: “I was waiting for Marcel — it was 5.35 p.m. at 42 West 57 Str., January 13, 1945.”[72] Evidently Kiesler had arranged to meet Duchamp in Rainford’s studio. But why? Had he been let in on Duchamp’s plans? That this might not have been the case is suggested by Kiesler’s surprise at Duchamp’s pale, sickly appearance: “At that very moment I heard the door open and Marcel was in the room. His hair was grey. He looked ill. ‘Marcel, are you all right?” I have to look even worse. I must look like 84,’ he answered. He had [taken] out of his pocket 1 powder compact, 1 eyeliner pencil, 1 clean and neatly folded handkerchief, 1 pair of gold-rimmed spectacles and a beret. Now I understood. He had come to have his portrait taken at the age of 84.”[73] On the other hand, the rapidity with which he “understood” and the fact that, in the ensuing dialogue, Duchamp involved Kiesler in his portrait project entirely as a matter of course suggest quite clearly that Kiesler was familiar with Duchamp’s plans.

---- Duchamp had arranged to meet Kiesler in Rainford’s studio because he needed him to help him with his make-up. “‘You'll have to help me finish my make-up.’ I accompanied Marcel into the other room, which looked like a cave, unfurnished except for a roller blind that hung down askew, an iron bedstead with a blue blanket and a large mirror on the wall, illuminated by a naked electric light, in front of which Marcel was already standing. We studied his face in the mirror for a few seconds and then another few seconds later we were back in the room. Marcel sat broadly in the chair, his head leant back, as though he were at the barber’s. I grabbed the white handkerchief, wiped those parts of his hair and face that were too white and dusted the white powder off his black tie. (...) A few black lines across his brow, a deepening of the nasolabial folds, which Marcel had already deepened slightly, a powdering of the ears, which we had forgotten, thin black lines on both edges of the nose and at the end of the nasal cartilage.”[74] Indeed, the makeup had been applied so cleverly and skillfully that it is recognizable as such only with the aid of a magnifying glass. The rapidity with which Duchamp’s facial expression was checked in the mirror and then finished with make-up tells us how carefully Duchamp had prepared the action before leaving his studio. This preparation consisted particularly in shaving the entire width of the brow along the hairline and the temples. Percy Rainford’s studio had for the time being been turned into a theatrical stage or a film set, where Kiesler had assumed the responsibilities of a make-up artist and set designer. Once work on the make-up was finished, the “actor’s” pose and facial expression had to be checked before the camera. “Marcel struck his grinning pose once more, but asked me to keep a close watch on the sunken lines around the mouth, as he would now widen and narrow them. I was to decide what was not too wide and not too narrow for an old man of 84.”[75] It would seem that Duchamp did not hit upon the idea of changing his age from 84 to 85 until the final layout stage of the project when his fictitiously aged portrait was placed next the portrait taken by Stieglitz. As Duchamp’s birthday was July 28 and he had decided on a significant time gap of half a century between the two portraits (1922—1972), his age on January 13, 1972 would indeed have been only 84. However, when formulating the captions for the two portraits, Duchamp completely waived documentary accuracy, for the age of 85 was far more ambiguous. As Duchamp’s friends, and certainly most View readers, would have known that he had not yet reached the end of his life in 1945, they could easily have taken the obvious mistake in age to be a simple twist of numbers, a typesetting error. Duchamp had at that time reached the age of 58 and not 85.

Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 85, 1945. Photo: Percy Rainford. Silver gelatin print, 17 x 11.6 cm. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania, Marcel Duchamp Archive: gift of Jacqueline, Paul, and Peter Matisse in memory of their mother, Alexina Duchamp.

Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 85, 1945. Photo: Percy Rainford. Silver gelatin print, 17 x 11.6 cm. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania, Marcel Duchamp Archive: gift of Jacqueline, Paul, and Peter Matisse in memory of their mother, Alexina Duchamp.

---- Two portraits were taken, one with spectacles and one without.[76] The pose, the facial expression, and the framing of the image — i.e., the distance from the camera to the subject — were the same. Kiesler’s observation that “the lenses of the spectacles were smeared and powdered (Marcel had evidently already prepared them in his studio)”[77] clearly shows how painstaking Duchamp’s preparations for his self-portrayal as an old man had actually been. The smeared lenses are clearly discernible on the original print in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The dull, virtually opaque lenses not only hamper our view of the subject’s eyes but also suggest that the old man possibly lives alone and can no longer look after his spectacles properly. Before the photograph was taken, Duchamp was unsure “whether 84 would come out better with or without glasses.” As soon as Duchamp is given the contact prints, he asks his “make-up artist” Kiesler: “Which one shall we use?”[78] His use of the word “use” is only a minor linguistic detail, but one that doubtless refers to its publication in View and, by the same token, shows how well Kiesler had been familiarized with the project. All the same, Duchamp’s question is more rhetorical than curious, for he continues without pausing: “The one with glasses looks like 84, the one without only like 79.”[79] While opinions may of course differ when it comes to interpreting the features of old age, one cannot but agree that the portrait with spectacles looks less contrived than the portrait without spectacles, for it does in fact look like an ordinary portrait photograph of an ordinary old man, while the spiritualized physiognomy of the subject without spectacles awakens associations with an ancient ascetic philosopher, its mask-like appearance strangely seeming to transport him into a world beyond real time. The beret covering Duchamp’s hair and the unusual — for a portrait — frontal illumination of his brow transforms Duchamp’s head into a flat face mask reminiscent, not least through the sunken cheeks and tightly pressed lips, of photographs of death masks.[80] Perhaps it was precisely the close association with the aesthetic of the death mask that went too far for Duchamp, at least for the publication in View, and induced him to choose the “more commonplace” bespectacled portrait. After all, Duchamp wanted to pair the portrait taken by Stieglitz in 1922 not with the mask 7 of a dead man but rather with the portrait of a man who had aged a good fifty years. The reduction of the print to the size of passport photo and the lack of detail in its deep black reproduction in the magazine suppressed all traces of make-up and further underscored the impression of an ordinary photograph — its only extraordinary feature being its portrayal of a person in the future.

Death mask of Modigliani, 1929. Photo: Man Ray.

Death mask of Modigliani, 1929.
Photo: Man Ray



----   Part 2   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. 5-36, pp. 72-80. (Translated by John Brogden, Foreword by Dieter Bogner)
© 2013 Herbert Molderings and Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Konig, Köln


[1] View, Marcel Duchamp Number, p. 18: Counter-Art-Wise Duchamp, arch rebel of 20th century art, stopped painting more than twenty years ago. Nevertheless, new works continue to come into being (...). These works are scarcely recognizable as the products of creative activity: they are so unorthodox and so far removed from patterns, centuries-old, of the material and conceptual substance of painting and sculpture.
[2] On Duchamp as a graphic artist see Bonk, Britt (eds.): Marcel Duchamp. The Box in a Valise; Naumann: Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Making Art; Marcel Duchamp Druckgraphik, exh. cat., Vienna.
[3] “Peut-on faire des œeuvres qui ne soient pas d’art?” First published in: Marcel Duchamp: A l’ Infinitif. Quoted here, in translation, from: Sanouillet (ed.), Duchamp du Signe, p. 105.
[4] This unusually small format was not an invention of Duchamp’s but rather one of the magazine’s stylistic layout devices that ideally suited Duchamp’s purposes. It had already been used in previous issues, especially for the depiction of portraits. See, for example, View, vol. IV, no. 4, December 1944, pp. 118 and 121.
[5] The portrait taken by Stieglitz actually dates from 1923. See Collins Goodyear, McManus (eds.), Inventing Marcel Duchamp, p. 164.
[6] Schwarz, cat. nos. 511, 781; Taylor: Marcel Duchamp Étant donnés, exh. cat., pp. 53—54; Filipovic (ed.), Marcel Duchamp, exh. cat. Fundacién Proa, Buenos Aires, pp. 246-47. A comparison of the size of the displayed photograph with that of the immediately adjacent book Surrealism by Julien Levy shows that its dimensions were approximately the same as those of the two surviving original prints (17 × 11.6 cm and 16.8 ×11.9 cm). — From the original photographs of the shop window, which are kept in the collection of the Bibliothèque Kandinsky of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, it is not possible to make out whether the displayed photograph is the one taken with spectacles or the other version, without spectacles, which is yet to be discussed below.
[7] See View, vol. V, no. 2, May 1945, p. 41: The View editors named the window display “LAZY HARDWARE”: Duchamp — View — Arcane 17 window. Displayed besides the original photograph was an opened copy of the Marcel Duchamp Number of View itself and the orignial Bordeaux bottle as prepared by Duchamp for the production of the magazine cover. See also: Schwarz: The Complete Works, p. 781.
[8] D’Harnoncourt, McShine (eds.), Marcel Duchamp, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art, p. 24.
[9] Marcel Duchamp: Briefe an Marcel Jean / Lettres a Marcel Jean / Letters to Marcel Jean, pp. 9, 27; Franklin: “Smoking Bottles,” pp- 204—242.
[10] Information given to the author by Marcel Jean, Paris, 1987. The reproduction of Stieglitz’s portrait (18.7 ×18 cm on 24 × 18 cm format paper) — now in a private collection — is captioned on the back in Marcel Jean’s handwriting: “Marcel Duchamp, v. 1923, d’après photo A. Stieglitz.”
[11] Marcel Jean, Histoire de la peinture surréaliste, p. 352. The photograph is wrongly dated in the caption to 1947. The illustration is also contained in the English (The History of Surrealist Painting, p. 352) and the German (Geschichte des Surrealismus, p. 352) editions of the book.
[12] 16.8 ×11.9 cm. Written in pencil on the back, probably in Duchamp’s own handwriting, are the words: “photo faite en NY 1946” (sic). Also written on the back, in unknown handwriting, are a page reference “Page 352” (this is the page on which the photograph is illustrated in Marcel Jean’s Histoire de la peinture surréaliste) and an indication of size “55 mm” for the platemaker.
[13] Marcel Duchamp, exh. cat. Ronny van de Velde Gallery; the work was here reproduced as a picture postcard.
[14] Schwarz, The Complete Works, p. 780, cat. no. 509.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Molderings, “Die Fotografie des Möglichen,”p. 458; idem, Die Moderne der Fotografie, p. 109; exh. cat. Marcel Duchamp, p. 22.
[17] Durs Griinbein im Gesprich mit Heinz-Norbert Jocks, p. 27. Exhibited as a facsimile in: Rollenspiele — Rollenbilder, exh. cat. Museum der Moderne Salzburg, p. 102 and Evan Penny Refigured, exh. cat., Kunsthalle Tübingen, Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Art Gallery of Toronto, p. 153.
[18] Hopkins, “The Politics of Equivocation,” p. 55. Like Schwarz, the author wrongly assumes that the portrait is the one published in View (p. 56). See also Molderings, Wedekind: L’évidence photographique: La conception positiviste de la photographie en question, p. 205; Molderings: L’évidence du possible. Photographie moderne et surrealisme, p. 148.
[19] Inventing Marcel Duchamp, pp. 196-197.
[20] Marcadé, Marcel Duchamp. La vie à crédit, p. 373.
[21] Housez, Marcel Duchamp, p. 423.
[22] Taylor, Marcel Duchamp Étant donnés, pp. 61-62.
[23] Taylor, “Marcel Duchamp and Portraiture,” in: Inventing Marcel Duchamp, p. 119.
[24] Ibid., p. 61.
[25] Gough-Cooper, Caumont, “Kiesler und ‘die Braut, von ihren Junggesellen nackt entblößt, sogar’,” p. 288; Luyken, Frederick J. Kiesler und Marcel Duchamp: Rekonstruktion ihres theoretischen und künstlerischen Austausches von 1925 bis 1937, pp. 30-31.
[26] Kiesler, “Design-Correlation. Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Big Glass’,” reprinted in Frederick J. Kiesler, Selected Writings, pp. 38-41.
[27] Affectt Marcel. The Selected Correspondence of Marcel Duchamp, pp. 214-15; Luyken: Frederick Kiesler und Marcel Duchamp, pp. 138-39, 188-89.
[28] See Landis, Critiquing Absolutism; Daniels, “Points d’interférence entre Frederick Kiesler et Marcel Duchamp”; Bottero, Frederick Kiesler, pp. 212 et passim; Taylor, Marcel Duchamp Étant donnés, pp. 48-64. — Following a particularly intensive collaboration in 1947 — see Molderings: Die nackte Wahrheit, pp. 139 et passim — Duchamp broke off relations with Kiesler in 1948 probably in consequence of the “Matta affair” following the suicide of Arshile Gorky. Tomkins, Marcel Duchamp, p. 424.
[29] Davidson, Rylands (eds.), Peggy Guggenheim & Frederick Kiesler, pp. 258-59.
[30] VVV. Almanac for 1943, nos. 2-3, March 1943, p. 144 and back cover.
[31] See VVV, 1 and back cover as well as Duchamp’s original design, in: Schwarz: The Complete Works, p. 769, cat. no. 491; also Bonk, Britt (eds.): Marcel Duchamp. The Box in a Valise, pp. 280-81.
[32] On Duchamp’s reflections on “inframince” phenomena see Davila, De l'inframince; von Graevenitz, “Duchamp as a Scientist, Artifex, and Semiotic Philosopher”; Semin, “Note sur I'inframince duchampien,; Clements, “Duchamp’s Infrathin,” pp. 70-90; Nesbit, “Last Words (Rilke, Wittgenstein) (Duchamp)”; Tono, “Duchamp und ‘Inframince’.”
[33] Bogner, Friedrich Kiesler 1890-1965, pp. 58-65; Landis, “Critiquing Absolutism,” pp. 126-28; Phillips, “Architect of Endless Innovation,” in: idem, Frederick Kiesler, pp. 26-27.
[34] Ephemerides on and about Marcel Duchamp and Rrose Sélavy, December 22, [1944].
[35] On December 24, 1944, Duchamp wrote to Man Ray, who was then living in Los Angeles, informing him of the planned “Duchamp number” in View and asking him to send him documentary material on the artistic activities they had jointly undertaken. Affectt Marcel. The Selected Correspondence, p. 247.
[36] Letter dated August 21, 1945. Quoted, in translation, from: Scarlett and Philippe Reliquet (eds.), Correspondance Marcel Duchamp — Henri-Pierre Roché 1918-1959, p. 70: J’ai réussi à vivre ici presque comme à Paris càd. en évitant la vie publique (expositions, cocktails, parties) — Malgré cela j'ai dû aider à la confection d'un N° de “View” (...).
[37] View, pp. 25—29. On Kiesler’s theory of “Correalism” see Kiesler: “Manifeste du Correalisme,” Paris, 1947, reprinted in: Bogner, Friedrich Kiesler 1890-1965, pp. 92—121.
[38] For detailed interpretations of this photomontage cf. Otwell, View magazine’s Marcel Duchamp Special Issue, chapter 3,; Kraus, Sonzogni, “Frederick Kiesler: ‘Les Larves d’Imagie d'Henri Robert Marcel Duchamp,” pp. 82—88; Dalrymple Henderson, Duchamp in Context, pp. 214—15. Taylor, Marcel Duchamp Ėtant donnés, pp. 62-6.
[39] View, no. 25, pp. 29-30.
[40] Kiesler’s typescript, folio 1: “This was the first of 11 photographs that the 2 of us, he and I, had taken of Duchamp and his studio 2 days previously on the 4th floor of the house at 210 W 14 Str.; folio 2: [I] stood up and, after taking about five steps, was (...) looking, for the very first time, at the photographs he and I had taken. Folio 6: I sat down at the table, gathered my 11 prints together and began to pack them into my briefcase.”
[41] Art Digest, vol. 11, no. 7, January 1, 1937, p. 31. I am indebted to Paul Franklin for this information.
[42] See the reproduction of the painting Sad Young Man on a Train (1942) in the Alexina and Marcel Duchamp Papers, Series X—A, Box 22, Folder no. 56, Philadelphia Museum of Art. On the dating of the reproduction cf. Franklin, “Smoking Bottles,” p. 235. — Rainford is also credited as a photographer in Robert Lebel’s monograph Sur Marcel Duchamp, p. 155, but without the photographs being specified.
[43] See Kiesler, Inside the Endless House, p. 194. Here Kiesler is mistaken about the years of publication of VVV. The magazine was not published in 1947 but from 1942 until 1944, in three issues.
[44] Cf. entry in Stefi Kiesler’s desk diary of January 1, 1945: 2 h (Rainford — Marcel). Austrian Lillian and Frederick Kiesler Private Archive, Vienna.
[45] Ibid. In his diary entry dated March 10, 1959, Kiesler estimates Rainford’s age at “about fifty”. The photographer might therefore have been the same Percy Rainford who, according to the US Social Security Death Index, was born on November 9, 1901 and died in September 1976 (Bronx, New York). While these are the dates probably referred to by Michael R. Taylor in Marcel Duchamp Ėtant donnés, p. 62, there is still no documentary evidence to the effect that the two Percy Rainfords are one and the same.
[46] Kiesler’s typescript, folio 1: “He then went over to the young Negro;” folio 2: “The assistant appeared with a dripping print (...).”
[47] Kiesler: Inside the Endless House, p. 194.
[48] Kiesler’s typescript, folios 1 and 2.
[49] Ibid., folio 2.
[50] Kiesler: Inside the Endless House, p. 195.
[51] Kiesler’s typescript, folio 6.
[52] See “Quick Prints from Wet Negatives,” in: Encyclopedia of Photography, New York, 1974, p. 447. — That the negatives and prints had been developed in great haste is proven by the many fine drying spots on both prints, which indicate the presence of residual moisture on the films as a result of inadequate drying. If Rainford did in fact use glass plates instead of sheet film — which is not known for certain — he could have made the contact prints from wet negatives, which would have speeded up the production process by as much as about twenty minutes.
[53] Of the portrait without spectacles there exists in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art a second, unsuccessful print, which is damaged on its left-hand edge and incomplete along its bottom edge. Inventing Marcel Duchamp, p. 197, Plate 44.
[54] Kiesler’s typescript, folio 7. As there was no such thing as instant photography in those days, the prints could not possibly have been ready in just a “few minutes.” Kiesler has evidently speeded up the happenings for the sake of the narrative.
[55] Kiesler, Inside the Endless House, p. 195.
[56] Kiesler’s typescript, folio 3.
[57] Ibid., folio 4.
[58] Kiesler’s typescript, folio 9.
[59] Ibid., folio 10.
[60] Marcel Duchamp Notes, p. 107 (Note 174): Catalogue — Ėpisodaire / Page de titre — reproduction Ire page livret militaire — / par années — déplacements et tableaux faits dans l'année / pour ceux qui ne sont pas reproduits dans la boite peut étre indigquer non-reproduit / Ceci pour le luxe seulement 10 ou 50 exemplaires.
[61] In his essay “Smoking Bottles” (p. 234), Paul B. Franklin suggests an interpretation of this note in connection with Duchamp’s work on the Boite-en-Valise [The Box in a Valise] between the years of 1935 and 1941. However, as the photograph of the first page of Duchamp’s military ID pass was made later, during preparations for the Duchamp issue of View, we may readily assume that the photograph rather documents a later rejected project for the limited edition of this magazine. Indeed, when it was finally realized, the limited edition of a hundred copies of View featured on its frontispiece, as a rectified readymade, a hand-colored and signed reproduction of the print Pharmacy (1914). See Bonk, Britt: Marcel Duchamp. The Box in a Valise, p. 168.
[62] Letter from Duchamp to Henri-Pierre Roché dated November 26, 1953: “Please find enclosed the cover for the brochure you asked me for. The first page of my military ID card: a photo I found in my papers. Use it as it is, including the much-thumbed corners, on a white (or colored) background (...),” in: Correspondance Duchamp — Roché, p. 172. Quoted in translation. Two prints of this photograph were found in Duchamp’s estate and now belong to the Alexina and Marcel Duchamp Papers in the archives of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. See Franklin, “Smoking Bottles,” p. 233. — One print from the estate of André Breton was auctioned in 2003 in a joint lot together with the Marcel Duchamp Number of View. Auction catalogue André Breton, Livres 1, no. 519.
[63] The photographer can be readily identified as Percy Rainford with the aid of the entries in Stefi Kiesler’s diary dated January 1 and 11, 1945 (Austrian Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation). See Gough-Cooper, Caumont, “Kiesler und die Braut ...,” p. 292; Kraus, Sonzogni, “Frederick Kiesler: Les Larves d'Imagie d’Henri Robert Marcel Duchamp,” p- 83.
[64] It might have been footage from Maya Deren’s film The Witch’s Cradle (1943). A strip of film comprising 10 frames showing the movement of a camera around Duchamp’s head is illustrated in View, no. 34. However, as Duchamp had in 1943 also been making short films of his Rotoreliefs in movement, it is just as possible that this roll of film had been taken from one of these films. See also Affectt Marcel, p. 236.
[65] View, no. 3. — On Peter Lindamood see From Blues to Haikus: An Interview with Charles Henri Ford, n.p. [4] and Franklin, “Smoking Bottles,” pp. 234—235.
[66] From Blues to Haikus, n.p. [4]
[67] Ibid., n.p. [3].
[68] View, vol. IV, no. 4, December 1944.
[69] View, vol. VI, no. 2, May 1946.
[70] As Kiesler has here invented a French word (Imagie), the title can only be translated approximately.
[71] Kiesler’s typescript, folio 9.
[72] Kiesler’s typescript, folio 1. The number of the house — 42 — is either a typing or a memory error on Kiesler’s part. In Rainford’s advertisement in Art Digest of 1937 (see note 41) his address reads 44 West 57 Street. In the Manhattan New York City Telephone Directory of 1940 and Fall-Winter 1946 the studio “Percy Rainford Photography” is listed under the address “44 W 57” and telephone number Clrcle-7-3983.
[73] Ibid., folio 2. Duchamp’s words “I must look like 84” were deleted by Kiesler in the typescript.
[74] Ibid., folio 3.
[75] Ibid., folios 4 and 5.
[76] According to Kiesler’s typescript the photographer took two photographs of each pose. See folio 5.
[77] Ibid., folio 4.
[78] Ibid., folio 7.
[79] Ibid.
[80] The aesthetic closeness of the portrait to a face mask is certainly not fortuitous. Back in 1941, the sculptor Georges Henriques Raba in Sanary-sur-Mer had modelled a face mask of Duchamp and used it for the making of a portrait in colored cement. From 1946 onwards, Duchamp’s work was essentially marked by the technique of lifecasting. This phase ended, significantly, with a self-portrait that operates with the aesthetic of a life mask: With my Tongue in my Cheek, 1959. See Franklin: “Rencontres a Sanary-sur-Mer,” pp. 278-279; Didi-Huberman, Äbnlichkeit und Berührung, chapter 111, pp. 108-189; Taylor, “Marcel Duchamp and Portraiture,” pp. 17-121; idem, Marcel Duchamp Ėtant donnés, pp. 61-62; Judovitz, Unpacking Duchamp: Art in Transit, pp. 116-117.



Marcel Duchamp at the Age of 85