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Marcel Duchamp as Rrose Sélavy

c. 1920-1921
Man Ray (American, 1890–1976)

Rrose Sélavy—the female alter-ego of the "daddy of Dada," Marcel Duchamp—looks out at us from beneath the brim of her hat, meeting our gaze with a sad, seductive stare framed by smudged eye liner. Her right hand bares a simple wedding band that, in European fashion, mates Rrose to her male counterpart.

Her name was first documented as "Rose Sélavy" in a signature Duchamp added to Francis Picabia’s 1921 painting L’Œil cacodylate (The Cacodylic Eye). She eventually added an extra "r," becoming Rrose Sélavy, a play on the French phrase "Eros, c'est la vie"—meaning "Eros [or Love/Sex], that's life."

Photographed by preeminent American Dada and Surrealist artist Man Ray shortly after his arrival to Paris, this photograph documents an early collaboration between artistic comrades that challenges gender conventions. Man Ray would photograph Rrose Sélavy many times, recording her transformation over the years.

Object Details

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