Denise Browne Hare, Étant donnés in the Corner of Marcel Duchamp’s 11th Street Studio, (1968)
Hare documented the half assembled Étant donnés as it appeared in Duchamp’s cramped studio on East 11th Street in NYC in a series of photographs that were taken in the last week of December, 1969. The portfolio was commissioned by the artist’s close friend, Alexina “Teeny” Duchamp, who felt that it was important to capture for posterity the ambiance of the artist’s cramped and sparsely furnished studio.
Name: Étant donnés Artist: Marcel Duchamp Year: 1946-196 Medium: Installation art Info: An ode to Courbet’s work. This is a rather complex piece of work in terms of its construction requiring a brick doorframe with a keyhole to be erected around the piece. You see, you approach the doorframe, with little reluctance, peek through the keyhole seeing nothing too special about it, only to be greeted by l’origine du monde in its full, unabashed glory. Though the exact meaning is unknown –Duchamp was very secretive about his work- there is speculation that the piece represents the three lovers in his life, another speculation links the piece to the famous “Black Dahlia” murder in 1947, whilst there is further speculation that the piece is a misogynistic statement. It’s also credited as being the first piece of installation art.
In 1969, one year after Duchamp’s death, the Philadelphia Museum of Art revealed the artist’s work. This shocked the art world because in 1923 Duchamp announced that he was giving up art for his true passion, chess. His followers were also surprised by the realism in this final constructed piece which contrasted sharply with his previous Dadaist works.
Duchamp had been working on the piece in secret from 1946 to 1966. It is visible through a pair of peepholes in a wooden that look onto a scene of a naked woman lying her back. The tableau is constructed of bricks, velvet, twigs, a female form made of parchment, glass, linoleum, an assortment of lights, a landscape composed of hand-painted and photographed elements and an electric motor housed in a cookie tin which rotates a perforated disc.
Duchamp left a carefully constructed instructed manual to accompany the piece.