||Marcel Duchamp: A Game of Chess
Marcel Duchamp remains a major influence in contemporary art, and Marcel
Duchamp: A Game of Chess shows why. This French program includes
original footage of interviews filmed during Duchamp's first
retrospective exhibition, held at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1963, five
years before he died. The program has voice-overs in English, with
black-and-white footage supplemented by color shots of the art works.
The first half focuses mainly on Duchamp's early oil paintings and his
ease at adapting the very latest innovations in painting from Matisse
and Cézanne to cubism and futurism. We watch Duchamp speak about his
famous painting shown at the Armory in 1913, Nude Descending the
Staircase, while standing in front of it. We gain insights into his Dada
period, which continues to influence conceptual art today. Duchamp
explains that that work was the result of a humanitarian protest against
the war, against a society that was becoming "absurd and unacceptable."
We hear a number of his ideas, such as "repetition is a form of death."
Duchamp explains in detail the various levels of meaning of his 1923
work entitled "Why Not a Sneeze," which was a cage full of what
resembled sugar lumps but which were actually made of marble. Original
music by the French composer Edgar Varèse, Duchamp's contemporary, adds
to the sense of the revolutionary nature of Duchamp's art production and
ideas. Including visual metaphors and interviews with numerous French
luminaries, this program addresses an array of audiences, from art and
history buffs to those interested in new ideas in the 20th century.
--Anne Barclay Morgan
The Secret of Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp kept a secret for over 20 years: while the art world had
wrongly assumed that one of the 20th century's most important artists
had given up creating art, Duchamp was building his final masterpiece,
Etant Donnes ("given"). Duchamp didn't allow the piece to be viewed by
the public until after his death in 1968. This left him shielded from
the questions that developed after the piece debuted. Simply described,
it is a peepshow. Through an old wooden façade, one looks through to see
a sculpted open-legged nude lying in a field. The critics were stumped.
What did Duchamp leave us with? This BBC documentary from 1997 dissects
and examines the pieces of this assemblage. Including archival footage
from a 1966 BBC interview and interviews with old lovers, friends,
neighbors, and his stepchildren, the video sheds a wealth of light on
the enigmatic Duchamp and his final work. In the end, we are left with a
substantial basis to approach what becomes a remarkably personal piece.
Serving as a fitting introduction, as well as an excellent source of
material on Duchamp's later years, The Secret of Marcel Duchamp will
even tame those stick-shaking critics who feel the man destroyed what he
was never able to avoid--the world of art. --Ted Sonnenschein
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