Marcel Duchamp Young Man and Girl in Spring 1911

Marcel Duchamp Young Man and Girl in Spring 1911
Collection The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. The Vera and Arturo Schwarz Collection of Dada and Surrealist Art © Succession Marcel Duchamp / ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2008

Picabia enjoyed early success in Paris as an Impressionist painter. But in 1908–9 he rejected this route and began to experiment with more contemporary artistic styles, including Fauvism.

Like Picabia, Duchamp was handsome and charming, but with a beguiling serenity that contrasted with Picabia’s volcanic energy. Although quite different in temperament, the two men shared a similar outlook. Picabia’s first wife said they displayed ‘an extraordinary adherence to paradoxical, destructive principles in their blasphemies and inhumanities, which were directed not only against the old myths of art, but against all the foundations of life in general’.

Duchamp’s elder brothers were leading figures in the Cubist movement, and Duchamp introduced Picabia into their circle in 1911. But Duchamp and Picabia both resisted pressure to conform to a group style.

In New York Man Ray learned about the latest trends in European art but was keen to make his own mark. Even before he met Duchamp or Picabia he was playing with the conventional elements of art works: Man Ray 1914 is both a landscape and the artist’s signature.