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Friday, November 2 • 9:00am - 10:30am
1.C. To Remake the Past: Duchamp and Warhol

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PANEL. To Remake the Past: Duchamp and Warhol

“Surrealist Shop Windows: Art, Eroticism, and Consumption in Duchamp’s La Hune Bookshop Displays”
James Housefiield
University of California, Davis 
Like many of his cohort, Marcel Duchamp maintained a dynamic relationship with shop windows throughout his career.  Though historically marginalized in comparison to more durable and marketable works, shop window displays or “window dressings” made by Duchamp and his contemporaries (ranging from the dada and surrealist artists to Frederick Kiesler and Robert Rauschenberg) merit new analysis. This paper analyzes one such work, documented by a little-known photograph in the Philadelphia Museum of Art archives, that Duchamp installed at Librairie La Hune (Paris, 1946). The window display featured a photo of Duchamp playing chess, flanked by reproductions of a thematically linked pair of paintings by French artist Pierre-Auguste Cot. Cot’s paintings treated the theme of Paul et Virginie, the enormously popular 18th-century novel by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. Duchamp likely chose these images for their layers of significance. Paul et Virginie – one of the most widely read “classics” in French literature simultaneously functions as a love story and a geographic treatise; Duchamp, fascinated by geography, was deeply entangled in a love affair with Brazilian sculptor Maria Martins at the time. Cot’s paintings earned record-shattering prices in auction during Duchamp’s lifetime and were displayed by the New York museums that purchased them (Metropolitan Museum and Brooklyn Museum). These were so widely reproduced during this time that they rivaled the Mona Lisa for recognizability; like Leonardo’s work, these were primarily known through reproductions. This paper analyzes how Duchamp’s shop window thus transmitted encoded commentaries on love, eroticism, and art’s currency as reproductions.

“Postwar Paris and the 1947 Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme: à refaire le passé”
James W. McManus
California State University, Chico 
Following his exile in New York during the war, in the spring of 1946, André Breton went home to Paris, taking with him a strong desire to re-establish surrealism’s prominence. Marcel Duchamp would soon arrive as well. The Paris they encountered was quite different from its pre-war self. It was challenging with competing and conflicting fighting and infighting over matters political and intellectual. It was in this intense climate that the 1947 Exposition Internationale Surréalisme was conceived. While Breton was comfortable in the combative climate, Duchamp was not. He returned to New York in January 1947. Working together until Duchamp’s departure appears to have given the two men time to collaborate on ideas and begin plans for the exhibition held at the Maeght Gallery from July 7 to the 30th of September, 1947. A close reading of the exhibition suggests that the two men came at the project from different perspectives resulting in overlapping agendas. Deeply committed to surrealism, Breton sought to restore the movement; promoting a new mythology and an international surrealism. To demonstrate surrealism’s vitality he solicited contributions to the exhibition from over one hundred surrealists scattered across twenty-four different countries on both sides of the Atlantic. In its final iteration the exhibition, treated visitors as initiates progressing from the Hall of Superstitions, to the Rain Room, and finally the Labyrinth; in route experiencing a series of ritual tests intended to provide access to ideal Knowledge through “spiritual progression.” With Breton in Paris, from his sanctuary in New York City, Duchamp continued his contributions to the exhibition. With this paper I offer that a second agenda was given shape – a sous-texte, and in part secret, playing on a dialogue between the Large Glass and his secret project, Étant donnés. Its author was Marcel Duchamp. Along with the cover design for the exhibition’s catalogue, important among his contributions to the exhibition were his design of the Rain Room and the Altar of the Juggler of Gravity. One of its elements was a clothing iron (le fer à repasser). On its base was the inscription à refaire le passé (the past is to be redone). This witty pun leads us to consider a probable double entendré. On the one hand is a sly rebuttal to Maurice Nadeau’s 1945 assessment that surrealism’s time had passed. The other presents itself as a cryptic reference to his secret project, Étant donnés.

“Arroser C’est La Vie: Andy Warhol’s Rain Machine and the Mirrorical Return of Marcel Duchamp’s Rain Room”
Anne Collins Goodyear
Bowdoin College Museum of Art 
Often overlooked, Andy Warhol’s Rain Machine (1969-71) is typically treated as an anomaly in the artist’s oeuvre. Only one contemporary critic, Jack Burnham, sought to provide an intellectual framework for Warhol’s seemingly bizarre construction. Noting similarities between Duchamp’s Rain Room, developed for the 1947 Surrealist exhibition at the Galerie Maeght, and Warhol’s piece, Burnham asked: “Could Warhol have had the same intention?” This paper addresses Burnham’s query, considering Warhol’s response to Duchamp’s complex installation as an excavation of a history that in just two decades had already become obscure. As I shall argue, the mid-1960s represented a moment, as the Pop artist sought to divorce himself from the legacy of Abstract Expressionism, to reexamine the suggestive richness of new directions in Surrealism. For Warhol the 1947 Surrealist exhibition, of which he owned a deluxe version of the Duchamp-designed catalogue, represented not the end of an era, but a point of departure replete with new paradigms of authorship, viewership, and conceptual engagement. Warhol’s Rain Machine, realized in 1971 in Los Angeles, only miles from the Pasadena Museum where Warhol and Duchamp first met, provides a meaningful engagement on Warhol’s part with dimensions of the elder artist’s career deserving further scrutiny. Bearing in mind Duchamp’s observation that the viewer completes the work of art, Warhol may himself serve as a sort of collaborator with the elder artist offering us new insights into just what has always made this little studied pair of works—Rain Machine and Rain Room—so slippery.

avatar for Anne Collins Goodyear

Anne Collins Goodyear

Co-Director, Bowdoin College Museum of Art
Anne Collins Goodyear, Ph.D. is Co-Director of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art and President Emerita of CAA. Focused on the relationship of American art to science and technology, the construction of personal identity in modern and contemporary art, and the art of Marcel Duchamp... Read More →
avatar for James Housefield

James Housefield

University of California, Davis
First Papers of Surrealism, Experience design, Exhibition design, Surrealist exhibitions, Marcel Duchamp, Maria Martins, Elsa Schiaparelli, WWII, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Librairie La Hune. PLAYING WITH EARTH AND SKY: Astronomy, Geography, and the Art of Marcel Duchamp (book).
avatar for James McManus

James McManus

California State University, Chico
James W. McManus is Emeritus Professor of Art History at California State University Chico. Previously he taught at the University of Washington and as a lecturer at a number of art colleges and universities in London, England. He has served on review panels for the National Endowment... Read More →

avatar for Elliott King

Elliott King

Associate Professor of Art History, Washington & Lee

Friday November 2, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Room C. Vaughan Literature: Willard Smith Library (ground floor)