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The Essential Duchamp at MMCA Seoul

  • Marcel Duchamp - Box in a Valise
December 22, 2018
Balasz Takac is alias of Vladimir Bjelicic who is actively engaged in art criticism, curatorial and artistic practice.

Marcel Duchamp‘s introduction of the concept of the readymade certainly was a milestone in the history of the avantgarde, since it has profoundly changed the modernist paradigm based on the idea of originality. He kept proposing bold, innovative and radical ideas which were not all recognized during his lifetime. It wasn’t until the post-war period that Duchamp became saluted as an icon by the new generation of artists belonging to Neo-Dada, Fluxus, Minimalism and a bit later Conceptualism.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the artist’s death. To honor him, The Philadelphia Museum of Art decided to organize an extensive traveling exhibition titled simply The Essential Duchamp which is next scheduled to be on display at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul.

Marcel Duchamp - Fountain
Marcel Duchamp – Fountain, 1950 (replica of 1917 original). PMA © AssociationMarcel Duchamp/ADAGP, Paris-SACK, Seoul 2018

The Significance of This Retrospective

This important survey was carefully prepared in order to underline the growth of Marcel Duchamp as an artist throughout all of the phases of his long career. Timothy Rub, the Museum’s George D. Widener Director, and CEO stated:

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is uniquely suited to undertake this ambitious exhibition and delighted to share it with new audiences in the Asia-Pacific region. Since 1950, when Louise and Walter Arensberg donated their distinguished collection to the Museum, it has been a destination for those interested in Duchamp’s work and has become an important center for the study of his creative process. These holdings constitute a legacy that is central to our understanding of modern art. We hope to introduce audiences unfamiliar with Duchamp to his work and acquaint them with his complex modes of thought, his different personas, and the sustained effort he made to eliminate the boundary between art and life.

The Installment

This selection of one hundred and fifty works and related documentary materials will be presented in four sections. The first one is focused on the early period from 1902 through 1912; a period of experimentation with different avant-garde styles spanning from Impressionism to Symbolism and Fauvism. The second section leads the audience through his most important period in between 1912 and 1917 when Duchamp proposed his readymades. The following one follows Duchamp in Paris during the 1920s and 1930s, as well a period spent in New York during World War II. The last section is focused on the remaining decades of Duchamp’s life when he already gained the cult status.

Some of his works will debut in Asia for the first time in Asia: Portrait of Dr. Dumouchel from 1910, Sonata from 1911, and Chocolate Grinder (No. 2) from 1914, as well as the famous Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2) from 1912.

Left Man Ray - Man Ray - Duchamp as Rrose Sélavy Right Marcel Duchamp - Nude Descending a Staircase
Left: Man Ray – Man Ray – Duchamp as Rrose Sélavy, 1921-1966. PMA © MAN RAY TRUST/ ADAGP, Paris & SACK, Seoul 2018 / Right: Marcel Duchamp – Nude Descending a Staircase (No.2), 1912. PMA © Association Marcel Duchamp/ADAGP, Paris-SACK, Seoul 2018

Duchamp at MMCA

It is important to note that the international tour is made possible by the Terra Foundation for American Art. After Korea, the show will travel to the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

The Essential Duchamp will be on display at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul from 22 December 2018 until 7 April 2019.

Featured image: Marcel Duchamp – Box in a Valise, 1935-1941, 1963-5. PMA © Association Marcel Duchamp/ADAGP, Paris-SACK, Seoul 2018. All images courtesy MMCA Seoul.