After Marcel Duchamp

After Marcel Duchamp, In the Manner of Delvaux, 1963. Norton Simon Museum Archives
The Norton Simon Museum's "Modernism in Miniature" includes a real curiosity: a tiny framed simulacrum of Marcel Duchamp's collage In the Manner of Delvaux that was apparently created by curator Walter Hopps for Duchamp's 1963 retrospective at the Pasadena Art Museum.

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
Delvaux's painting was featured in 1942 at Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century gallery in New York.  That made it topical, a suitable subject for satire. Duchamp used it for a collage consisting of a photograph of the mirror in the Delvaux painting on tinfoil on cardboard. He gave it the title "In the Manner of Delvaux," invoking the auction house language for a copy. The 1942 collage is now in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

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


Anonymous said…
Lots of interest in Duchamp recently:

... beginning with Hauser & Wirth's facsimile of Lebel's Duchamp catalogue.

Here is a video on that:

That was followed by Alex DaCorte's homage to Duchamp at last year's Whitney Biennial, his work titled ROY G BIV. Here is Da Corte on that work:

Late last year, PBS (KCET) did an episode of ArtBound on the Duchamp retrospective in Pasadena. It includes one of Duchamp's observations about Los Angeles, the one that took an on uncanny meaning in light of Zumthor's span over Wilshire.

Then, news just broke this week of the death of a major collector of Duchamp's work. His Duchamp works will go to the Hirshhorn museum.

On that note, there is the 2020 Getty book on the Arensberg's, also major collectors of Duchamp's work. It is worth the read, for the pictures alone. Interesting people, interesting collection, and quite a loss for LA. The Arensberg's tried to place their collection in Los Angeles, but it was probably rejected by the "Ahmanson's" of their day. They ended up giving their collection to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

--- J. Garcin
Anonymous said…
> It includes one of Duchamp's observations about Los Angeles,
> the one that took an on uncanny meaning in light of Zumthor's
> span over Wilshire.

Thanks for the link. KCET's documentary on the Duchamp show at the former Pasadena Art Museum (now the USC Pacific Asia Museum, then re-located to what eventually became the Norton Simon) was very interesting. It really captures the passing of time (before/after shots of the exhibit's participants) and the dynamics of culture, politics and economics.

Just now reading that Eve Babitz (the woman immortalized in images of her playing chess in the nude with Duchamp) passed away a year ago gives the film an even more wistful, nostalgic tone.

As for the Arensberg collection leaving LA? The reason for that is as ironic, predictable, non-predictable, complicated or contradictory as the culture-politics-economics that exist around just about everything. And everyone too.

Look at LACMA and the story of Michael Govan, Peter Zumthor, the board of trustees, LA city/county governments, etc. Look at how long it took for LA to get a museum devoted expressly to the visual arts, one that wasn't mixed in with dioramas and archeological items.

Another irony or contradiction? Knowing that Duchamp spent lots of his time between Paris and New York City, while Philadelphia ended up with the world's largest repository of his works. Then, too, his native France's Paris just within the past 50 years has created more major art museums, making the Louvre by itself now seem too modest or limited.

The march of time---and culture, politics and economics.
Anonymous said…
^^^Intellectual connections, rather than contradiction. Fiske Kimball, the Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the time of the Arensberg gift, was a Harvard grad. So was Walter Arensberg.

Katherine Dreier (the other major Duchamp collector at the time) gave her collection to Yale. She was not a Yale grad, but she had an intellectual connection (a Yale audience receptive to her ideas about modern art).

In both cases, Duchamp assisted in the disposition of his work. In the Dreier case, he was one of the executor's of her estate. Given the nature of his work, I think he had an interest in placing the work with institutions that truly respected the intellectual nature of his work. The Arensberg's tried first to place his work at UCLA. But that deal fell through.

Since then, LA has become one of the world's art capitals, but I still don't think there is a strong intellectual foundation for that. If you look at things this way, the opposition to the Zumthor building makes more sense. Lots of ignorant people here who if given a chance would have dismissed Duchamp's work too.

--- J. Garcin
Anonymous said…
I'd say that opposition to Zumthor's building (by way of Michael Govan) is anything but ignorant or anti-intellectual. Most tellingly, it provides LESS square footage - not more - for things like galleries (not even factoring in an unusable outer wall of windows), conservation center, curator/office space. It also stresses the budget of the museum, which hearkens back to a time in Los Angeles when money for the arts and culture wasn't exactly plentiful.

Zumthor's building actually better fits LA of the past more than it does for a city with substance over glitz. Call it a selfie or TikTok building.

Anonymous said…
^^^Caring more about the square footage than the quality of the spaces is an ignorant position? Art works look great in sidelight. I could say more on the subject, but I doubt you would understand.

... Thinking that the back office spaces have to be in the same building as the art is an ignorant position. MOMA's storage is offsite. So is the Louvre's. The Yale Art Gallery's conservation studios are offsite.

... Thinking that the bridge loan (from the County) will not be repaid is an ignorant position. The County considers it a "bridge" loan for a reason.

... Trying to have it both ways is also an ignorant position. You can't complain that it is smaller than the buildings it replaces (in both square footage and number of floors) and also more expensive to operate.

... Calling it a TikTok building attests to the fact that you know nothing about the history of architecture. All great buildings are the measure of man. See Corbusier on the subject. So what if the the measuring stick today is a smart phone.

I always find it comical when ignorant people act like snobs.

--- J. Garcin
Anonymous said…
Are you the same "Save the LACMA mob" poster who goes back quite awhile? Whether you are or aren't, I don't trust that person's judgment or objectivity either.

I notice many of the people who tend to be a bit too defensive about the Govan/Zumthor building call to mind the line of, "methinks he doth protest too much." However, I guess some people may think the same quote can be turned around on folks who are indignant about the TokTok mess being foisted upon the people of LA. But it's foolish to dismiss the value and meaning of the amount of display space in a museum (LACMA included) when most of them end up squirreling away a lot of their collections in storage rooms.

However, I do understand why Zumthor (and Govan) were forced to bridge the building south of Wilshire Blvd. There's just not enough land north of it. Look at how only inches exist between the Zumthor overpass and the Japanese/Price, Broad and Resnick galleries. Look at how tiny is the central ticketing area, the one that looks like a public school cafeteria from the 1960s.

Then, too, LACMA has artworks that make the Louvre (and Met, National, Art Institute, BFA, etc) green with envy. So there's also that.

Moreover, we don't need no stinkin' money.
Re "Then, too, LACMA has artworks that make the Louvre (and Met, National, Art Institute, BFA, etc) green with envy.": Yes.
Anonymous said…
My comment actually wasn't general enough. ha-ha. I should have noted that LACMA's *entire* collection makes the Louvre, etc, green with envy.

However, LACMA's budget and endowment fund do legitimately make the Louvre (and Harvard, Stanford, etc), green with envy. I wonder if some of LACMA's budget is influenced by crypto and FTX?

Ax for the floor-to-ceiling windows of Zumthor's building? The museum should take advantage of and use them for the display of draperies that span the centuries.

> The invention of glass windows by Italy in the
> mid-thirteenth century was a major factor in the
> development of drapery.

I grudgingly admit that views from those windows of cars, buses and trucks going by and under the museum's overpass will make great TikTok or Instagram moments.

LACMA don't need no stinkin' scholarliness.
Anonymous said…
The person who posted the Duchamp links knows his/her stuff.

The rest of you are IDIOTS.
Anonymous said…
LOL. Hi, Michael.

Or maybe I should post: Hi, Peter.