American, born France, 1881–1968
“I am interested in ideas, not merely in visual products.”
Marcel Duchamp was born into a family of artists. He began painting at the age of fifteen, and by the 1910s he was experimenting with both Fauvism and Cubism. In 1913 Duchamp made his first “assisted readymade” by mounting an overturned bicycle wheel on a stool. In 1915 Duchamp moved to New York, where he scandalized again with the exhibition of another readymade, the urinal titled Fountain. While visiting Paris in 1919, he became acquainted with Dada artists, whose provocative tactics he took back to New York.
Let Duchamp inspire your students to:
- Create readymade art by selecting an object, drawing a diagram of how they would display it, and writing a label that explains why it is a work of art.
- Alter a postcard of an iconic work of art with markers, then mount it and write a new title.
- Convey movement in two dimensions by drawing multiple copies of a figure, then arrange them as if they are moving across a page.
- Work in small groups to create a Dada film.
- Cut words out of a magazine, put them in a bag, then remove the words one at a time and glue them down on paper to create a Dada poem.
Book for students:
Mimi’s Dada Catifesto, Shelley Jackson
Who Says It’s Art?, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Creating a Readymade Exhibition, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Student Guide: Dada, National Gallery of Art
Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia Resource Pack, Tate Modern
Find out more from The Museum of Modern Art:
Chance Words: Make a Dadaist Poem
Rotary Demisphere (Precision Optics), gallery label text, publication excerpts