Francis M. Naumann Fine Art
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Marcel Duchamp is considered the most influential artist of the 20th century. This reputation is due primarily to his introduction of the readymade, an alternative to the traditional art-making process wherein anything designated by an artist as a work of art-from a bicycle wheel mounted on a stool to a bottle rack purchased from a department store-automatically becomes art and should be treated as such. Whereas this radical notion has done much to alter the course of contemporary art, few realize that it can be traced to Duchamp's involvement with his family, specifically, to objections expressed by his brothers to his Nude Descending a Staircase, a painting he submitted for display to the Salon des Indépendants in 1912. Rather than accept the reservations voiced by his brothers and substitute this painting for another, Duchamp chose instead to withdraw it, whereupon he made the momentous decision that he would no longer conform to accepted conventions of taste. At the time, Duchamp's eldest brother Jacques Villon was a cubist painter and printmaker, and his older brother Raymond Duchamp-Villon was a modernist sculptor. In this context, a readymade can be understood as an open challenge to the art his family practiced and represented, namely, the traditional genres of painting and sculpture. Although books have been written about the three Duchamp brothers, The Duchamp Family of Artists is the first study devoted to the entire family, from their maternal grandfather Émile Nicolle, a painter and printmaker of some note in French art at the end of the nineteenth century, to their sister Suzanne and her husband Jean Crotti, who, in the early 1920s, established an art movement of their own called Tabu. The present exhibition and catalogue traces the career of these artists-from their earliest works to those for which they have become best known, emphasizing the phases of the artists' careers in which their paths either conjoined or intersected.
The Duchamp Family of Artists