Marcel Duchamp, American (born France), 1887 - 1968
This work is an erotic examination of time and movement, a portrait of a mysterious woman that Duchamp noticed on the street and imagined in various states of undress. Studying Étienne-Jules Marey’s (French, 1830 - 1904) and Eadweard Muybridge’s (American (born England), 1830 - 1904) experiments in chronophotography and beginning to develop a formal language for depicting motion in painting, Duchamp portrayed his invented character of Dulcinea here in five successive positions—each bearing less clothing, as if stripped over time. Presenting a series of static images to resemble the frames of a motion picture, Duchamp invites the viewer to animate them mentally into a fluid movement. The resulting motion portrait prefigures both his Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1950-134-59), painted in January 1912, and the Bride at the center of The Large Glass (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1952-98-1).