After Marcel Duchamp
|After Marcel Duchamp, In the Manner of Delvaux, 1963. Norton Simon Museum Archives|
Paul Delvaux is the B-list surrealist known for paintings of spaced-out female nudes in de Chirico landscapes. Delvaux's 1937 painting, The Break of Day, incorporates an oval mirror that ought, by the laws of perspective, to show the painting's viewer. The reflection is of a breast.
|Paul Delvaux, The Break of Day, 1937. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice|
|Marcel Duchamp, In the Manner of Delvaux, 1942. Israel Museum, the Vera and Arturo Scharz Collection of Dada and Surrealist Art|
Duchamp's collage is not a faithful replica even of the detail it feigns to valorize. Duchamp photographed a model's chest simulating the painted reflection in the Delvaux. It is that photograph (of a cropped tableaux vivant) rather than a cropped reproduction of a painting that appears in the collage. Thus the collage's image is "fake" in at least one more way than the viewer might expect.
Walter Hopps organized the Pasadena Art Museum's Duchamp show, pivotal to the artist's reputation as Modernism's alpha trickster. Correspondence in the museum archives indicates that the show's version of In the Manner of Delvaux was a replica created with Duchamp's consent and probably by Hopps himself. The circular image is photographed from a reproduction in Robert Lebel's 1959 Duchamp monograph. It's matted in foil and mounted in a dime-store frame.
Collages often incorporate reproductions of other works of art. But the Pasadena collage's tiny frame seems to say, here's the real thing, when it actually parenthesizes another level of fakeness: A Duchamp that's not a Duchamp at all. Or maybe it is a Duchamp, a bespoke ready-made.
As the object had no lender, it remained in the Pasadena Museum, now the Norton Simon Museum. It is held in the archives, not the art collection, and is labeled "After Marcel Duchamp."
|Julian Wasser, Marcel Duchamp with Walter Hopps, 1963. This is one of a group of LIFE magazine-commissioned photographs of the Pasadena Art Museum retrospective|