DUCHAMP IN THE UK:
People living in the United Kingdom realize that the late artist Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) emerged one way or another in the cultural scene of London as many as seven times in 2013—“Richard Hamilton: The Late Works” at the National Gallery; “Man Ray Portraits” at the National Portrait Gallery; “Dancing around the Bride” at the Barbican; “Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos” at the Serpentine Gallery; “David Bowie is” at the V&A, and “Readymades” at the Fine Art Society. Well, the seventh time is a symposium that will take place, appropriately, not in the British capital, but at Herne Bay, a small seaside town on the north Kent coast. Celebrating this year the centenary from Duchamp’s first visit to the UΚ, this symposium is anticipated to be a great event.
THE LARGE GLASS:
It is rather a paradox that Duchamp, a notorious iconoclast, should create the most iconic artwork of the 20th century. Dating from 1915-1923, it is entitled “The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even,” also known more briefly as “The Large Glass,” and still continues to puzzle thinkers today and for times to come. Luckily, the Tate owns the second of four copies, this one created by Richard Hamilton in 1965 for the retrospective exhibition “The Almost Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp,” at the Tate Gallery in 1966.
Over the years, amazing theories by experts emerged linking Duchamp’s “Glass” to a great range of disciplines—alchemy, biology, geometry, physics, psychology, mythology and literature. Strangely enough, the claims of all these different theories to validity appear to be sound. What strikes one, however, is not so much the wild theorising of others about the “Glass,” but Duchamp’s own thinking, especially in advance of its facture, as recorded by his preliminary notes. 188 of these notes, which were published at different times during his lifetime—“The 1914 Box” (16 notes); “The Green Box” of 1934 (93 notes, dating from 1911 to 1915); and “The White Box: A l’infinitif (In the Infinitive)” of 1967 (79 notes, dating from 1914-1923)—threw as much light as Duchamp intended on the “Glass,” and helped establish it as a great work more so to be read than to be seen. Following Duchamp’s death in 1968, his stepson, Paul Matisse, found 289 more notes in his studio, and patiently transcribed them in a publication that has come to be known as the “Posthumous Notes” of 1980. Marvelling at Duchamp’s wit and poetic disposition, “Note 78” links Herne Bay and its Grand Pier Pavilion to the large work on glass that he had in mind.