Duchamp and Australia: In opposition

The following essay is something of a “delayed” response to the The Essential Duchamp at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (27 April – 11 August 2019). The exhibition consisted of some 125 works from the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, including the well-known Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (1912) and Fountain (1917), as well as a number of Duchamp’s designs for chess boards and chess pieces. Our argument here takes up and extends ideas originally developed in “Marcel and Felix: An Australian Rendezvous”, appearing in the collection Apostrophe Duchamp, published by Art + Australia in 2018. Both in that essay and here we are concerned to think the relationship of Duchamp to Australia, what it is about his life and work that we might find useful to reflect upon our art-historical situation today.

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