Portrait No. 29 (Double Exposure: Full Face and Profile)

Victor Obsatz (born 1925)
Gelatin silver print, 1953

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; gift of Jacqueline, Paul, and Peter Matisse in memory of their mother Alexina Duchamp
© Victor Obsatz and Moeller Fine Art, New York–Berlin

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Victor Obsatz’s double exposure portrait of Duchamp resulted because Obsatz’s camera did not advance properly when he was photographing Duchamp. It was a serendipitous moment, however, for Duchamp liked the juxtaposition of his smiling features with his iconic profile portrait.

The dual image in Obsatz’s portrait can be related to the front and side mugshots that Duchamp used for the 1923 poster Wanted: $2,000 Reward, as well as his concept of “the hinge.” Duchamp used the metaphor of the hinge to describe the motion of objects through space, the transition of two dimensions into three, and, by extension, three dimensions into four. With this device, Duchamp suggested the presence of hidden realities, to be viewed only as one’s perspective shifted.

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Listen to co-curator James McManus discuss this image: