Marcel Duchamp. Fresh Widow. New York 1920
Marcel Duchamp

Fresh Widow

New York 1920
On view
Miniature French window, painted wood frame, and panes of glass covered with black leather
30 1/2 x 17 5/8" (77.5 x 44.8 cm), on wood sill 3/4 x 21 x 4" (1.9 x 53.4 x 10.2 cm)
Katherine S. Dreier Bequest
Object number
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris / Estate of Marcel Duchamp
Painting and Sculpture

Constructed by a carpenter in accordance with Duchamp's instructions, Fresh Widow is a reduced scale version of the traditional floor-length French window. Duchamp covered the glass panes with panels of black leather, obstructing the metaphorical view through the window that is associated with illusionistic painting. With the change of three letters, Duchamp transforms "French window" into the title "Fresh Widow," a pun that points to the recent war and the bawdy tradition of amorous (or "fresh") widows of soldiers. The inscription at the base, "COPYRIGHT ROSE SELAVY 1920," is the first time the name of Duchamp's female alter ego appears on one of his works.

Gallery label from Dada, June 18–September 11, 2006

Additional text

This is a small replica of a traditional French window. The glass panes are covered with black leather that Duchamp insisted "should be shined every day like shoes." With the inscription along the base, Duchamp turned an inanimate French window into an anthropomorphic "Fresh Widow," which was, he felt, "an obvious enough pun."

Gallery label from 2006

Provenance Research Project
This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
Katherine S. Dreier (1877-1952), West Redding and Milford, Connecticut
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Katherine S. Dreier Bequest, 1953

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This work is on view on Floor 5, in Painting and Sculpture I, Gallery 5, with 18 other works online.
Marcel Duchamp has 41 works online.
There are 1,359 sculptures online.