Marcel Duchamp Etant donnés, 1946-66, Virtual Reproduction 2004

Marcel Duchamp Etant donnés 1946–66, Virtual Reproduction 2004

Courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art
© Succession Marcel Duchamp / ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2008

Throughout their careers the three artists made works that referred, often jokingly, to sexuality and sexual encounters. For Duchamp, eroticism was ‘the basis of everything’, although ‘no one talks about it’.

In his interwar photographs Man Ray used latent sexual shapes in the bodies of his models to create a new and distinctive type of erotic imagery. During the Second World War Picabia surprised many of his supporters by producing what appeared to be kitsch paintings of nudes. But his willingness to offend ‘good taste’ and his borrowing of images from published sources were characteristic of his work as a whole.

Also shown here is a projected version of Duchamp’s Etant donnés (Given) 1946–66, an installation unveiled only after his death. This disturbing piece startled those who thought Duchamp had given up making art, and was only interested in ideas. But it was a culmination of Duchamp’s views about the relationship of the sexes, and of his lifelong preoccupation with vision and perspective.