The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass)

Marcel Duchamp, American (born France), 1887 - 1968

Geography:
Made in United States, North and Central America

Date:
1915-1923

Medium:
Oil, varnish, lead foil, lead wire, and dust on two glass panels

Dimensions:
9 feet 1 1/4 inches × 70 inches × 3 3/8 inches (277.5 × 177.8 × 8.6 cm)

Copyright:
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris / Estate of Marcel Duchamp Update July 17, 2012: © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris / Succession Marcel Duchamp

Curatorial Department:
Modern Art

Object Location:

* Gallery 182, Modern and Contemporary Art, first floor (Stroud Gallery)

Accession Number:
1952-98-1

Credit Line:
Bequest of Katherine S. Dreier, 1952

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Surely one of the most enigmatic works of art in any museum, The Large Glass dominates a gallery devoted to Marcel Duchamp's work from the exact location in which he placed it in 1954. Painstakingly executed on two planes of glass with unconventional materials such as lead foil, fuse wire, and dust, the appearance of the Glass is the result of an extraordinary combination of chance procedures, carefully plotted perspective studies, and laborious craftsmanship. As for its metaphysical aspect, Duchamp's voluminous preparatory notes, published in 1934, reveal that his "hilarious picture" is intended to diagram the erratic progress of an encounter between the "Bride," in the upper panel, and her nine "Bachelors" gathered timidly below amidst a wealth of mysterious mechanical apparatus. Exhibited only once (in 1926 at the Brooklyn Museum) before it was accidentally broken and laboriously repaired by the artist the Glass joined the Museum's collection in 1953 and has gradually become the subject of a vast scholarly literature and the object of pilgrimages for countless visitors drawn to its witty, intelligent, and vastly liberating redefinition of what a work of art can be. Anne d'Harnoncourt, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 316.
  • PublicationTwentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    Duchamp's Large Glass is as radical in appearance as in its intentions and implications. A work of art to be looked both through and at, neither a painting nor a sculpture, Duchamp called the Glass "a hilarious picture" but took it seriously enough to devote eight years to its making. He began work on his magnum opus as a twenty-seven-year-old newcomer to New York, having had it in mind since 1912. The Glass could not appear more different from the Readymades contemporary to it: complicated to manufacture, replete with narrative, and deeply entangled with art and science.

    The Glass is also closely involved with words; Duchamp prepared a voluminous body of notes that articulate the narrative described by the full title of the Glass. He published ninety-four of these notes in individual facsimiles in 1934 in The Green Box, and they permit a tentative reading of the imagery of the Glass. As described in his notes, Duchamp's "delay in glass" chronicles the state of perpetual desire involving the bride, depicted in the upper panel, and the circle of nine uniformed bachelors arrayed in the lower. Duchamp devised an elaborate iconography to demonstrate the erotic proceedings and characterize the unfortunate actors. Every visual element of the Glass is the result of meticulous studies, calculations, and experiments.

    In 1923 Duchamp declared the Glass "definitively unfinished." His decision was prophetic, as the final appearance of the work was yet to be achieved. That occurred by chance when the two panels were shattered while the Glass was in transit following an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 1926–27. Duchamp laboriously glued it back together ten years later, securing the original glass between new panes and housing it in an aluminum frame. Occupying the spot in the Philadelphia Museum chosen for it by Duchamp a half-century ago, the Glass continues to generate endless speculation and inspiration for followers of its enigmatic, amusing, and irresistibly compelling tale. Twentieth Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2000), p. 57.


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