Marcel Duchamp. 
Nude Descending Staircase #2. 1912


Marcel Duchamp. 
Nude Descending Staircase #2. 1912

Thomas Eakins 1884

Rose Selavy 
photo by Man Ray

Marcel Duchamp. 
L.H.O.O.Q. 1919

What does LHOOQ stand for?
[not an acronym; auditory pun] 
Elle a Chaud au Cul 
(French: She Has a Hot Ass; Marcel Duchamp work)

The Mona Lisa's deep-set eyes and round face do not conflict with Duchamp's act of violence. The beard and moustache seem a completion. Duchamp said the Mona Lisa becomes a man - not a woman disguised as a man, but a real man. This hints at a different meaning from vandalism, for all the crudeness of those letters, L.H.O.O.Q., which sound out the French sentence: "She has a hot arse." This is not simply an attack on the mass-produced tourist icon the Mona Lisa had become, but rather an interpretation of it. Sigmund Freud had psychoanalysed Leonardo's art and related the artist's inability to finish his works to the sublimation of his sexual life to art. He also argued that Leonardo was homosexual.

Marcel Duchamp


Marcel Duchamp. The Fountain. 1917
Marcel Duchamp (1887- 1968), whose sense of humour first came to attention in 1917, when he submitted, under the name R Mutt, a urinal to a New York art exhibition. Duchamp anonymously defended R Mutt in a magazine, and gave a definition of his new art of the readymade: whether or not Mr Mutt made it with his own hand has no importance. He chose it. He took an everyday article, placed it so that its usual significance disappeared under the new title and point of view - and created a new thought for that object.

Marcel Duchamp. The Fountain. 1917

J.L. Mott Ironworks

Marcel Duchamp. The Fountain. 1917



Marcel Duchamp. The Fountain. 191



To launch a manifesto you have to want: A. B. & C., and fulminate against 1, 2, & 3,...

...and maintain that novelty resembles life in the same way as the latest apparition of a harlot proves the essence of God. His existence had already been proved by the accordion, the landscape and soft words.

Everyone does it [imposes one's A.B. & C.] in the form of a crystalbluff-madonna, or a monetary system, or pharmaceutical preparations, a naked leg being the invitation to an ardent and sterile Spring.

...the love of novelty is a pleasant sort of cross....impulsive and vibrant to crucify boredom.

I'm writing this manifesto to show that you can perform contrary actions at the same time, in one single, fresh breath; I am against action; as for continual contradiction, and affirmation too, I am neither for nor against them, and I won't explain myself because I hate common sense.


...on the other hand, there are: the new men. Uncouth, galloping, riding astride on hiccups.

Psychoanalyses is a dangerous disease, it deadens man's anti-real inclinations and systematizes the bourgeoisie. There is no ultimate Truth.

I hate slimy objectivity, and harmony, the science that considers that everything is always in order. Carry on children, humanity ... Science says that we are nature's servants: everything is in order, make both love and war. Carry on, children, humanity, nice kind bourgeois and virgin journalists...

I am against systems; the most acceptable system is that of having none on no principle.

Art is a private thing, the artist makes it for himself; a comprehensible work is the product of a journalist...

What we need are strong, straightforward, precise works which will be forever misunderstood. Logic is a complication. Logic is always false.

Hugo Ball Reciting the Sound Poem
Karawane  1916

Photographed at Cabaret Voltaire

  • Founded in 1916 in Zurich, a neutral city in the middle of a war-torn Europe, by a group of exiles from countries on both sides of the conflict.
  • Some were draft dodgers; most were pacifists; all found refuge on Swiss soil and were outraged by the slaughter taking place on all sides.
  • In February, in a tavern a few paces from Lenin's home in exile, Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Tristan Tzara, and others founded the Cabaret Voltaire, dedicated to presenting, in Ball's words, "the ideals of culture and of art as a program for a variety show."
  • L'amiral Cherche Une Maison à Louer  or  (Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco, Richard Hulsenbeck)
  • Poems were recited simultaneously in French, German, and English. Ball, dressed, in a bizarre cardboard costume, chanted his sound poetry. Richard Huelsenbeck punctuated the proceedings with a continual drumbeat.
Hannah Hoch,
Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada through 
the Last Weimar-Beer Belly of the 
Cultural Epoch of Germany, 1919