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Marcel Duchamp

Silver Gelatin Print (1959)

© 2018, Lazarus Family. All rights reserved.



Marvin Lazarus took this photograph at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC on the final day of the “The Art of Assemblage” exhibition in 1961.  The exhibition included thirteen of Duchamp’s works.


This image captures Duchamp with his artwork: he stands framed within the spokes of his Bicycle Wheel, gazing up at his last painting Tu m’, with one arm familiarly tossed around the shoulder of his Fountain.


Duchamp's inscription on the photo, playing off of the visual pun of the bicycle spokes, translates: “In my prison, by Lazarus the Jailer. Affectionately, Marcel Duchamp, 1962.” Lazarus continued to photograph Duchamp, and in 1963 he exhibited his series at the East Hampton Gallery in The Many Faces of Marcel Duchamp."


Excerpt from National Portrait Gallery exhibit catalogue "Inventing Duchamp," published by Smithsonian Press, Washington, DC.


Marcel Duchamp
Two Private Journal Entries by Marvin P. Lazarus
December 11, 1959

Still sick but came to the office so I could do Duchamp.  He is very charming.  The apartment has two Matisses, a Miro, a Brancusi head and other objets d’art. The Duchamp book just came out with all his photos. I scanned it quickly while he autographed a copy for a young girl. 


Met Mrs. Duchamp, who is still very pretty.  I believe she is Matisse’s daughter.  I got her to pose with him playing chess. D. seemed to be amused by my line of chatter while working.  He wanted to know all about Gino Severini - where he lived, etc.  Oh yes, the chair I photographed him in was used by Max Earnst ln Dreams that Money Can Buy. 


I felt so sick when I went there; I didn’t think I could possibly last. But while working I felt wonderful.



May 27, 1960



Visited Marcel Duchamp to show him the pictures.  I was pleased that he liked them, so I gave him a whole set, which I think he appreciated. He especially liked the small one.


I want to record my reactions to him.  I find it difficult to listen to him, as he is so fascinating to watch.  His face is long and gaunt. His fingers long and gaunt. Others have these qualities, but Duchamp’s motions are a ballet.  Duchamp is friendly. His face, however is not volatile, like many friendly people’s are.  His lips are occasionally pursed; his eyes will squint for a moment. Nothing dramatic.  Nothing knowing.  There is almost a mask, which in most persons you would resent.  However there is such a feeling of amused warmth and life behind the mask that you feel charmed rather than resentful. 


And why is there this life?  It is Duchamp’s hands.  They are never still, but they are seemingly never in motion.  They glide from one arm to the other, they are suddenly clasped together.  In a moment he is leaning his face on an outstretched finger.  A finger touches his eye; it causes a squint that is sinister. In a moment that position is gone.  A finger to his lips.  A hand on an elbow.  I sat there and watched a choreography which almost hypnotized me.  One would think this endless motion would be distracting, but to the contrary; one feels a fantastic feeling of calm and repose.  It is in the face; the calm backdrop of face which coordinates all these motions into the man.


He began to speak of MoMA,  and said that while he was welcome there, he felt neglected. He said the museum is not interested in him because he doesn’t “produce.” Unless you produce, dealers won’t push you. And the museum, he indicated, was responsive to dealers.  The museum was interested in the market - and all of his things have been sold.  He said the MoMA had a glass thing and a small painting.  Everything else was in Philadelphia.  


As to his glass things, I asked him why he cracked them.   He said he didn’t. They cracked later - “I just didn’t cry about it.”  

Marcel Duchamp

Silver Gelatin Print (1960)

© 2018, Lazarus Family. All rights reserved.

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