The Essential Duchamp

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157373
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Matthew Affron (Author) With contributions by Cécile Debray, Alexander Kauffman, Michael R. Taylor, and John Vick

This book offers an engaging and accessible introduction to one of the twentieth century’s greatest and most enigmatic artists, Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968). A hugely influential pioneer whose creative output was predicated on a fundamental questioning of what art is, Duchamp is well known despite remaining mysterious as an artist, owing to his elusive persona and the unconventional nature of his work.


Focusing on the world-renowned Duchamp collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Essential Duchamp tells the artist’s story through four key periods. The book begins with his early paintings and engagement with the avant-garde, then charts his abandonment of painting and invention of the readymade. This is followed by the creation of his alter ego Rrose Sélavy and the optical experiments of the interwar years, and, finally, by the making of Étant donnés (1946–66), the project that occupied the artist in the final two decades of his life. Shorter accompanying texts include explanations of key terms Duchamp used for his innovative ideas—readymade, pictorial nominalism, precision optics, and infrathin—as well as interviews and statements by the artist about his own art and ideas.

About the Authors:Matthew Affron is the Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Cécile Debray is director at the Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris.

Alexander Kauffman is the Andrew W. Mellon–Anne d’Harnoncourt Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Michael R. Taylor is chief curator and deputy director for art and education at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.

John Vick is collections project manager at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

  • Paperback with flaps
  • 200 pages
  • 7 7/16" x 9 3/4"
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-300-23311-7
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