New Digital Portal Delves Into Prismatic Past of Marcel Duchamp

Assembling a wealth of archival materials for an artist who himself was an archivist of the highest order, the newly unveiled Duchamp Research Portal draws on historical holdings of three major institutions, with free access to “more than 18,000 documents and artworks comprising nearly 50,000 digitized images” related to Marcel Duchamp’s life and art, according to a press release issued by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Association Marcel Duchamp, and the Centre Pompidou.

The portal includes artifacts related to the artist and many other notable names in his orbit from the Alexina and Marcel Duchamp Papers and Arensberg Archives at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the archival collections of the Association Marcel Duchamp, and the André Breton and Constantin Brancusi collections at the Centre Pompidou, as well as documentation related to Duchamp retrospectives presented in Philadelphia in 1973 and Paris in 1977. Especially tantalizingly, the archive includes materials about the creation and installation of Étant donnés 1° la chute d’eau, 2° le gaz d’éclairage (Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas) (1946–66), the ever-enigmatic installation at the Philadelphia Museum that counts as Duchamp’s final major work.

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Visitors to will find such items as a highly economical drawing seemingly of Duchamp in profile by Mina Loy and photographs of Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) installed in the house of artist Kathrine Dreier (see image #15 here). Other riches abound, including letters, telegrams, press clippings, and hand-scrawled notes, among many other materials.

In a statement, Philadelphia Museum director Timothy Rub said, “People are seeking richer online art experiences now more than ever, and this exceptional collaboration with our partners at the Centre Pompidou and the Association Marcel Duchamp, for which we are deeply grateful, offers a wealth of resources.”

Antoine Monnier, director of the Association Marcel Duchamp, added, “Definitively unfinished, like the Large Glass at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Duchamp Research Portal echoes the artist’s intercontinental travels, life, friendships, artworks, love affairs and chess games. Through making these archives accessible globally, we hope that Marcel Duchamp’s idea of freedom will inspire visitors to the site and that they will remember that the artist’s life and art were one, constantly redefining borders of all kind.”


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