Van Gogh •
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Marcel Duchamp, born in Blainville, near Rouen, is the brother of painters Jacques Villon and Suzanne Duchamp, and of the sculptor Raymond Duchamp-Villon.
He began his career in 1909 at the Salon des Indépendants, and by 1912 he had passed rapidly through Impressionist, Fauvist, and Expressionist phases to arrive at a form of Cubist Futurism in "Nude Descending a Staircase", one of the most triumphantly successful works at the New York Armory Show of 1913. Duchamp settled in New York and earned his living giving French lessons, preferring his personal liberty to orders for paintings. When Francis Picabia came to New York in 1915, the two men met and their common ideals sparked the Dada movement (1915-22), based on principles of inversion, negation, and anti-aestheticism, and a rebellion of international scope against contemporary morality and the senselessness of war. Between 1915 and 1923, Duchamp worked leisurely on his masterpiece, "The Bride Undressed by Her Bachelors": painted on glass and adorned with bits of painted, cutout tin. When the painting was completed, Duchamp laid down his brush and did not paint again, "in order not to repeat" himself.
He devoted his time to playing chess and to the creation of "ready-mades": ordinary objects raised to the level of fine art by chance association and by the addition or elimination of detail. Duchamp 's twenty-odd paintings are psychologically meaningful, humorous, and curiously disquieting, with witty punning titles that add to our perplexity and enjoyment. Such titles are also attached to his "ready-mades," whose principle is that the creation of a work of art is not limited to manual dexterity but may stem from the imagination and vision of the artist. Although Duchamp had given up painting, his influence on the Dadaists was enormous, and he continued to exert an influence upon all forms of contemporary art. In fact, Marcel Duchamp has become a veritable legend in himself: a man with a brilliant mind, a sense of humor, and a spirit of freedom. His death, in Paris, in October, 1968, deprived the world of one of the most original personalities of the twentieth century.