Art e-Facts 50

In 1921 Marcel Duchamp decided to launch a perfume. The bottle was to be a ‘false’ replica of the Rigaud brand perfume bottle that was available in the shops. The original label was modified by Duchamp by adding the face of Rrose Selavy (see fact of the day 18) Duchamp then instructed Man Ray to create a photomontage for the label to read BELLE HALEINE / Eau de Voilette (translated as Beautiful Breath: Veil Water). The perfume which was to be launched in Paris and New York had the company logo RS – New York – Paris. Duchamp then decided against the venture and the resulting false replica of the real Rigaud bottle (almost a reversed ready-made) has become one of the most precious ready-made objects of this period, authored by both Duchamp and Man Ray.

Courtesy: D. McLachlan

Art e-Facts 18

This photograph of Marcel Duchamp, taken by Man Ray in 1921, shows Marcel Duchamp in the role of Rrose Selavy, the artists female alter ego. To introduce Selavy to the public this femme savante (intellectual woman) was photographed by Man Ray as a form of birth certificate of the ‘daughter without mother’.

Dressed in full regalia of furs, rings, pearls and hat and photographed against a neutral background, appearing as a women of high society and apparently questionable morals Duchamp emphasised the ambiguity and clouding of sexual boundaries. To add to the femininity of the portrait Ray and Duchamp touched up the photo with pencil and ink. The name of the female alter ego is also a cryptic comment – the French pronunciation can also be interpreted as ‘Eros, c’est la vie – Eros, that’s life’ Duchamp believed in the universal understanding of eroticism.

Courtesy: D. McLachlan

Art e-Facts 2

In December 2004, Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain was voted the most influential artwork of the 20th century by 500 of the most powerful people in the British art world. This is testimony to the influence of Duchamp’s work, and the mark he has left on the art world.