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Duchamp and Dadaism: A Passion that Never Fades

kawaiidaigakusei at 12:00AM, July 29, 2019

I have come across many awe-inspiring sights Along my Summer travels across the Eastern Coast of the United States. I have walked inside grand mansions decorated with Victorian-era Second Empire, French Rococo Revival, and Aesthetic movements on Newport, Rhode Island; I touched a replica of the Caves of Lascaux in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. However, when I found out I had the opportunity to stop by Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for a few hours, I seized the opportunity because I wanted to see the most extensive collection of work by Marcel Duchamp at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Upon arrival to the museum, I saw crowds of people paying homage to the Rocky Balboa films as groups of healthy people took turns running up the large steps leading to the museum. I lugged all four bags of my travel luggage up four flights of stairs and arrived in the courtyard of three neoclassical buildings complete with columns and high relief pediments.

I recently saw a video interview that Marcel Duchamp had recorded before his death in of the wings of the museum. In the interview, be mentioned how Philadelphia was the best place to house his works—The Chocolate Grinders, Nude Descending a Staircase No. 1, and his masterpiece work, The Large Glass. The video was recorded over fifty years ago, so I did consider that the pieces had been relocated in a renovation over the years.

I located the Contemporary and Modern art section and walked room to room searching for Duchamp’s work. I saw the large model of the metal Bird in Space, walked down hallways of Piet Mondrian’s black, yellow, blue, and red geometric compositions, and was mesmerized by a self portrait drawn by Picasso. This was when I really started wondering if Duchamp’s works were still housed by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

I kept walking until I was at the end of a hall and then I locked eyes on a piece staged in the center of a room. The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) was perfectly displayed. Broken glass window panes that told a story over time, from the mechanical looking bride to the chocolate grinders at the bottom right and the bachelors that were also portrayed in Francis Picabia’s film, Relâche. I kept staring at this piece, fully focused until my eyes began to well up with tears and I cried. I cried because this was my first time seeing a piece of work in person that I had studied extensively in college. It was a work created by one of my role models and he had stood in the very same room I had been half a century before me.

The rest of the room included several other works by Duchamp including his readymades and an entire room that was meant to be one of the largest, interactive rooms planned by Duchamp that he wanted in a room adjacent to The Large Glass.

When I am moved by art to the point that I feel my heart beat, my hands start to shake, and tears, I am reminded of being nineteen again, when art history was my passion and I wanted SO badly to study everything about it. My trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art reminded me that I am still passionate about art and I have no regrets of the choices I have made to pursue a passion-filled life.

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