Marcel Duchamp

Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946)
Palladium print, 1923

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Alfred Stieglitz Collection (1949.3.585)
© 2008 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Acquainted with Marcel Duchamp since 1915, Alfred Stieglitz played an important role in Duchamp’s early career. As owner and director of the avant-garde gallery 291 on Fifth Avenue, Stieglitz worked to promote modern art in America. Stieglitz also photographed Marcel Duchamp’s infamous Fountain (a urinal) after it was rejected in 1917 from an exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists.

This photograph abets yet another such artistic prank. This image, taken from the from the front, along with another image (not pictured) taken from the side, adopts the well-known idiom of the mugshot from criminal photography. Around this time, Duchamp would produce a humorous version of a “wanted” poster, featuring himself as a fugitive with multiple aliases. Although Duchamp did not actually use Stieglitz’s photographs, the conceptual relationship between the two projects is clear.

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Listen to co-curator Anne Goodyear discuss this image: