Marcel Duchamp as ”Rrose Sélavy", one of his alter egos, 1921, photo by Man Ray
Regarded as one of the most important, innovative, and influential, artists of the 20th century, Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) created paintings, sculptures, and objects that go well beyond conventional labels. He also designed exhibitions, composed music, and was a serious player of—and writer about—chess.
Duchamp’s revolutionary work was related to cubism, Dada, and surrealism, but always reflected his own individual perspective, anticipating artistic movements as diverse as pop and conceptual art and kinetic sculpture.
His deliberate outrageousness caused controversy, as seen in Fountain, a urinal that Duchamp submitted to a 1917 exhibition as a piece of sculpture, and the much-maligned Nude Descending A Staircase No. 2, which took New York’s 1913 Armory Show by storm.
In a richly illustrated program, art historian Nancy G. Heller traces Duchamp’s life and art, focusing on a selection of his key works and explaining why they were—and still remain—important, in terms of their broader aesthetic, philosophical, economic, and political contexts.
The program serves as an introduction to the Hirshhorn’s exhibition Marcel Duchamp: The Barbara and Aaron Levine Collection, which includes more than 35 seminal works by Duchamp, on view beginning November 9.
Heller is professor of art history at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*
Learn about the donated collection whose artworks are spotlighted in the Hirshhorn’s new Duchamp exhibition, and why the gift was such a significant one for the museum.
*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.