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Monday, April 3, 2017

Suzanne Duchamp

Vase de Fleurs, 1944, Suzanne Duchamp
Torso of a Young Man, 1910, 
Raymond Duchamp-Villon,
Can you imagine being the father or mother of six children and living to see four of those six become well-known artist? If you had been Eugene or Lucie Duchamp and living in Blainville-Crevon, Seine-Maritime of the Haute-Normandie Region of France during the latter quarter of the 19th-century, that would have been the case. The eldest of the four was Gaston Duchamp, who painted using the name Jacques Villon, born in 1875. Next came the painter, sculptor, and printmaker, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, born in 1876. Third was the most famous of the siblings, the sculptor and painter, Marcel Duchamp, born in 1887. And finally, there was their younger sis-ter, (the fourth of the six) Dada painter, Suzanne Duchamp, born in 1889 (their only daughter). Their parents probably wondered what they did wrong when the other two children didn't become artists.

Man Ray was a friend and fellow Dadaist. Jacques Villon
was her older brother. Jean Crotti was her husband.
Suzanne began her studies at the École des Beaux-Arts in her native Rouen at sixteen. Not surprisingly, her early works reflected Impressionism, by that time rather traditional; and Cubism (which was anything but). At the age of twenty-one, Suzanne married a local pharmacist but quickly divorced, moving to the Montparnasse Quarter of Paris to be near her brother, Marcel, and to expand her artistic career. A year later, she had her first major exhibit at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris.

Broken and Re-Established Multiplication,
1918-19, Suzanne Duchamp
With the outbreak of World War I, Suzanne Duchamp served as a nurse in Paris producing virtually nothing until 1916 when Jean Crotti returned to Paris from New York, bearing news of Marcel and of the exciting success he was having there. After the war, taking after her slightly older brother, the first of her Dadaist works appeared. Suzanne Duchamp's Broken and Re-Established Multiplication (above) from 1919, is considered one of her best works. It consists of a schematic drawing of the Eiffel Tower turned upside down in the center of the image, with phrases running up and down the surface—“The mirror would shatter, the scaffolding would totter, the balloons would fly away, the stars would dim”—essentially creating a sense of visual and verbal disorder.

Ariette of Oblivion in the Thoughtless Chapel,
1920, Suzanne Duchamp.
Duchamp married the abstract painter Jean Crotti in 1919. Together they developed Tabu, an offshoot of Dada and an amalgam of previous movements to which they added a quasi-religious element. Jean Crotti was deeply spiritual. For him, abstraction was a tool for grappling with existential questions. He saw it as his main stylistic consistency, although he incorporated some figuration and blended elements of Cubism, Orphism, Futurism, and Dada throughout his life's work. in 1920, Suzanne completed her work Ariette of Oblivion in the Thoughtless Chapel (above) which is regarded as her strongest Dadaist work. In her later years, as Dada died a natural death, Suzanne returned to the Impressionist roots of her early days as a student artist as see in her Vase de Fleurs (top), from 1944. Suzanne Duchamp Crotti died in Seine-Saint-Denis, France in 1963.

Art Basel Miami Beach Art Fair 2012, Francis M. Neumann Fine Art Kabinett
--Jacques Villon, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Marcel Duchamp, Suzanne Duchamp
A few years later, in Rouen, France, her brother, Marcel, helped organize an exhibition called Les Duchamp: Jacques Villon, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Marcel Duchamp, Suzanne Duchamp. Some of this family exhibition was later shown at the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris. As recently as 2012, Francis Neumann, the Duchamp family biographer, organized a display of the four sibling artists' work (above) at Art Basel in Miami Beach.

Self-portrait, Suzanne
Duchamp, probably her first,
certainly one of her few.


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