Tate Modern Level 4
21 February – 26 May 2008
This exhibition aims to chart the artistic and personal relationships of three of the great figures in early twentieth-century art, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and Francis Picabia.
Together they created the Dada movement in New York during the First World War, and, unusually within the history of modern art, they remained friends, with periods of varying intensity, throughout their lives. At the heart of the friendships lay a shared outlook on life, manifested in their works through jokes and a sense of irony, iconoclastic gestures, and a pronounced, if often coded, interest in sexual relations and eroticism. Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia aims to explore the various affinities and parallels between the work of these three, showing how they responded to each others’ ideas and innovations.
Picabia was a painter, Man Ray worked in all media but became celebrated as a photographer and Duchamp abandoned the life of a professional artist, yet became a revered figure for later generations of artists. The exhibition begins in the 1910s, with works showing the artists’ attempts to respond to and go beyond the implications of Cubism and abstraction. It will feature seminal early works including Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase (No.2) 1912 which created a furore when it was exhibited in America in 1913, Picabia’s I See Again in My Memory My Dear Udnie 1913–14 and Man Ray’s The Rope Dancer Accompanies Herself with Her Shadows 1916.
Covering the period to the end of their careers and spanning nearly 40 years, the show will also feature Duchamp’s readymades and optical experiments. It will include Man Ray’s rayographs (cameraless photographs), many of the iconic photographs of the interwar years, as well as examples of his many objects. Also on display will be important later paintings by Man Ray and Picabia, including a selection of the latter’s monster and late dot paintings. For the first time in Europe, Tate will show a newly-made projected version of Duchamp’s major late work, Given 1946-66. Unveiled only after Duchamp’s death, the original work is permanently installed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Unfolding in a loose chronology, themes explored in the exhibition include: the representation of movement; objects and their relationship to photography; light and transparency; the role of verbal allusions and puns in art; and performance and play-acting. Films by all three artists will also be shown, including Entr’acte 1924,which was scripted by Picabia and in which all three artists have cameo performances. There will be a rich section dedicated to the artists’ friendships, with photographs, letters, books and magazines.
Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia is curated by Jennifer Mundy, Head of Collection Research at Tate, with assistance from Nicholas Cullinan, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern. It will be accompanied by a scholarly catalogue with contributions from a range of distinguished authors.The exhibition will travel to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona from 19 June – 21 September 2008.