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Marcel Duchamp's "Large Glass"

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) was one of four siblings who became artists in the period of intellectual and artistic ferment that saw out the last decades of the old century and extended beyond World War I. Duchamp's early interest was in painting and Cubism and much of his most influential work was related to Dada practice. But Duchamp was ultimately the most independent of artists--eventually becoming independent of art itself. Much of his influence derived from gestures or positions related to the nature of art, and a great deal of his fame rests on works consisting of ordinary objects altered or 'readymade.' But Duchamp's masterpiece is usually held to be the glass, metal, and paint construction entitled The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (1915-23), frequently known simply as Large Glass.

This single piece, left unfinished according to Duchamp, was the subject of numerous drawings, sketches, published notes, and etchings, and occupied a significant portion of the artist's active career. It is a Dada piece in terms of its emphasis on machine imagery, chance, jokes and puns, mysterious allusions, and eroticism, as well as its notional relationship to science and mathematics. All these elements display Duchamp's connections with the so-called New York Dada movement. But the Large Glass was a work conceived apart from important Dada considerations--such as spontaneity and the rejection of reason--and it contained the germ of some of Duchamp's future ideas. Yet, like the work of all the various art movements of the 1890-1920 period, Duchamp's singular achievement in Large Glass was the product of ideas that grew out of the political and social restlessness of the era and from the ideas developed by its writers and philosophers.

The European world had changed radically in the course of the nineteenth century with the triumph of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of new European empires. Official art and cul...

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Marcel Duchamp's "Large Glass". (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 01:46, May 25, 2020, from