Marcel Duchamp was a French-American painter, sculptor and writer whose work is associated with Dadaism and conceptual art. He grew up in a family that enjoyed cultural activities and studied art at the Académie Julian from 1904 to 1905. Due to his eldest brother Jacques' membership in the Académie royale Duchamp's work was exhibited in the 1908 Salon d'Automne and the following year in the Salon des Indépendants.
In 1911, the brothers hosted a regular discussion group with other artists and writers including Picabia who became lifelong friends, Robert Delaunay, Fernand Léger, Roger de la Fresnaye, Albert Gleizes, Jean Metzinger, Juan Gris, and Alexander Archipenko.
Duchamp's first work to provoke significant controversy was Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (Nu descendant un escalier n° 2 - 1912). The painting depicts the mechanistic motion of a nude, with superimposed facets, similar to motion pictures. American show-goers, accustomed to realistic art, were scandalized, and the Nude was at the center of much of the controversy. While in Germany in 1912, he painted the last of his Cubist-like paintings and he started "Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors" image, and began making plans for The Large Glass – It would be over 10 years before this piece was completed.
During World War I, he was exempted and decided to emigrate to the United States in 1915. To his surprise, he found he was a celebrity when he arrived in New York. Duchamp created the Société Anonyme in 1920, along with Katherine Dreier and Man Ray. This was the beginning of his lifelong involvement in art dealing and collecting. The group collected modern art works, and arranged modern art exhibitions and lectures throughout the 1930s. Dada or Dadaism was an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century.
Dada was born out of negative reaction to the horrors of World War I. rejecting reason and logic, prizing nonsense, irrationality and intuition. Key figures in the movement included Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Hans Arp, Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Höch, Johannes Baader, Tristan Tzara, Francis Picabia, Richard Huelsenbeck, Georg Grosz, John Heartfield, Marcel Duchamp, Beatrice Wood, Kurt Schwitters, and Hans Richter, among others. The movement influenced later styles like the avant-garde and downtown music movements, and groups including surrealism, Nouveau réalisme, pop art and Fluxus.
The most prominent example of Duchamp's association with Dada was his submission of Fountain, a urinal, to the Society of Independent Artists exhibit in 1917 which was rejected it from the show. "Readymades" were found objects which Duchamp chose and presented as art. It is often assumed that the Bicycle Wheel represents the first of Duchamp's "Readymades", this particular installation was never submitted for any art exhibition, and it was eventually lost. However, initially, the wheel was simply placed in his studio to create atmosphere. Fountain was selected in 2004 as "the most influential artwork of the 20th century" by 500 renowned artists and historians.
In 1919, Duchamp made a parody of the Mona Lisa by adorning a cheap reproduction of the painting with a mustache and goatee. To this he added the inscription L.H.O.O.Q., a phonetic game that can be translated as "She has a hot ass".
In 1918, Duchamp went to Buenos Aires, where he remained for nine months and often played chess. He moved to Paris in 1919, and then back to the United States in 1920. Upon his return to Paris in 1923, Duchamp was, in essence, no longer a practicing artist. Instead, his main interest was chess, which he studied for the rest of his life to the exclusion of most other activities. Duchamp continued to play in the French Championships and also in the Chess Olympiads from 1928–1933.
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