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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Marcel Duchamp

Every artist dreams of creating a masterpiece that will go down in history as some kind of ground-breaking, earth-moving, watershed work of art. (Sounds downright geological, doesn't it?)  It happens every few years, though, sad to say, such a work today isn't likely to involve paint on canvas.  The medium is more likely to be film, television, or some computer game (like Pac-Man, perhaps).

Nude Descending a Staircase,
1912, Duchamp
If a single painting could be said to have brought Modern Art to American, it would have to be Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase #2. Painted in 1912, and first exhibited at the Armory Show in New York shortly thereafter, it sparked a firestorm of criticism and outrage. A critic referred to it as, " explosion in a shingle factory." President Teddy Roosevelt compared it unfavorably to a Navajo rug he owned, and a cartoonist mocked it with a similar rendering of New York commuters descending into a subway with: "The Rude Descending a Staircase."

Nonetheless, the painting sold. Today it can be seen in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

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