Marcel Duchamp was one of five artists in his family. His older brothers Gaston and Raymond were the first of the siblings to become artists, following the example of their grandfather Émile Frédéric Nicolle, a painter and printmaker. In the mid-1890s, they leave the family’s home in western France to start careers in Paris. Gaston soon rechristens himself Jacques Villon, after the medieval poet François Villon; Raymond adopts the hyphenated name Duchamp-Villon. They work in close dialogue with one another, Jacques as a printmaker and painter, and Raymond as a sculptor.
Marcel follows his brothers to Paris after graduating high school in 1904; younger sister Suzanne attends art school in Rouen. The two youngest daughters in the Duchamp family, Yvonne and Magdeleine, do not become artists but often model for their siblings.
Jacques, Raymond, and Marcel enter the public eye as members of the Cubist group in Paris. In 1912 Marcel leaves the group and begins experimenting with new ways of making art. With the outbreak of World War I, he moves to New York and becomes the only member of his family to establish a career outside France.
In 1916 Suzanne meets Swiss-born painter Jean Crotti, whom she would later marry. Together they lead an off-shoot of the avant-garde Dada movement. In 1918 Raymond dies at age 41 during military service in World War I.
Between the wars, Marcel travels frequently and contributes to the Dada and Surrealist movements on both sides of the Atlantic. In the 1950s and 1960s, his readymades and other inventions bring him widespread fame. During this time, he reunites with Jacques and Suzanne for a series of exhibitions.
Jacques and Suzanne die in 1963, followed by Marcel five years later. His last major work, Étant donnés, is permanently installed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1969.
Image caption: Marcel Duchamp, Jacques Villon and Raymond Duchamp-Villon in Puteaux, c. 1912, 1950-134-928