Museums partner to launch online Duchamp Research Portal

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Museums partner to launch online Duchamp Research Portal
André Breton, Esteban Frances, Suzanne Césaire, Jacqueline Matisse-Monnier, Denis de Rougemont, Élisa Breton, Sonia Sekula, Madame Nicolas Calas, Yves Tanguy, Nicolas Calas, Marcel Duchamp, Patricia Kane Matta, Matta, Alexina "Teeny" Matisse and Aimé Césaire, New York, November 20, 1945.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- The Duchamp Research Portal encompasses the entirety of the artist’s life and work in France and the United States through archival documents, correspondence, and supporting contextual images held by the major repositories of these materials. This pioneering digital platform is the outcome of a seven-year partnership between three French and American institutions. The Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), the Association Marcel Duchamp (AMD), and the Centre Pompidou have teamed up to bring together their unique archival collections relating to Duchamp. Starting today, the Duchamp Research Portal will become a primary resource for anyone interested in studying one of the twentieth century’s greatest and most enigmatic artists.

It is accessible via a centralized interface ( and provides free access to more than 18,000 documents and artworks comprising nearly 50,000 digitized images related to the work and life of Marcel Duchamp, his personal networks, his connections in the avant-garde art community (alliances with Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism, for example). The historical materials in the Portal will be of immense value, as well, to anyone with an interest in Duchamp’s artistic and conceptual legacy.

Among the wealth of resources available will be the vast Alexina and Marcel Duchamp Papers and Arensberg Archives at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the archival collections of the Association Marcel Duchamp, the André Breton and Constantin Brancusi collections at the Centre Pompidou, and holdings relating to major Duchamp retrospective exhibitions held in Philadelphia in 1973 and at the Centre Pompidou in 1977. The archive also contains materials linked to the development and installation of the artist’s final major work, Étant donnés 1° la chute d’eau, 2° le gaz d’éclairage (Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas) (1946–66).

Over the course of a career that spanned seven decades, Marcel Duchamp rebelled against conventional ways of making art, charting an entirely new course for himself as an artist. Ultimately, Duchamp came to define himself as a “respirateur,” or ”breather,” his term for someone who generates his ideas about art through the activities of everyday life. The Duchamp Research Portal will make it possible for the general public and specialists alike to explore the remarkable work and life of an iconic figure in the history of modern art who changed all the rules of the game.

Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and CEO, Philadelphia Museum of Art, said: “It is with great pride and delight that we now can share this extraordinary resource with audiences online everywhere. It makes the act of discovery possible for researchers around the world who are fascinated by one of the most revolutionary artists of the past century. People are seeking richer online art experiences now more than ever, and this exceptional collaboration with our partners at the Centre Pompidou and the Association Marcel Duchamp, for which we are deeply grateful, offers a wealth of resources.”

Xavier Rey, Director of the Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou, said: “This project was an obvious choice for us due to the extraordinary quantity of both the work and the documentation left by the artist; the context of critical thinking around Duchamp makes the portal even more foundational today. I would like to acknowledge the collaboration between the Archives Marcel Duchamp, the PMA, and the Centre Pompidou, and also warmly thank those who contributed to its accomplishment. No doubt Duchamp, the artist whom Jean Clair called the “great fictive one” (Le grand fictif) would have been pleased to find himself in a virtual world created by friends.”

Antoine Monnier, Director of the Association Marcel Duchamp, added: “Definitively unfinished, like the Large Glass at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Duchamp Research Portal echoes the artist’s intercontinental travels, life, friendships, artworks, love affairs and chess games. Through making these archives accessible globally, we hope that Marcel Duchamp’s idea of freedom will inspire visitors to the site and that they will remember that the artist’s life and art were one, constantly redefining borders of all kind. We are deeply thankful to both the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Centre Pompidou for their cooperation and efforts in this outstanding adventure that will certainly open new perspectives.”

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