Marcel Duchamp

Rotary Demisphere (Precision Optics)

Paris, 1925

Not on view
Painted papier-mâché demisphere fitted on velvet-covered disk, copper collar with plexiglass dome, motor, pulley, and metal stand
58 1/2 x 25 1/4 x 24" (148.6 x 64.2 x 60.9 cm)
Gift of Mrs. William Sisler and Edward James Fund
Object number
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris / Estate of Marcel Duchamp
Painting and Sculpture
This work is not on view.
Marcel Duchamp has 41 works online.
There are 1,416 sculptures online.

Back in Paris after World War I, Duchamp experimented with machines that produced optical effects, work he had begun in New York. When this machine is set in motion, the circles appear to pulsate toward the viewer. The copper ring around the dome’s circumference is engraved with French words chosen for the way their sounds echo one another: Rrose Selavy et moi esquivons les ecchymoses des esquimaux aux mots exquis (Rrose Selavy and I dodge the Eskimos’s bruises with exquisite words).

Gallery label from 2011

Provenance Research Project
This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
Jacques Doucet (1853-1929), Paris/Neuilly [1]; by inheritance to Jeanne Roger-Doucet (Jacques Doucet's widow), Neuilly, 1929; given to Henri-Pierre Roché (1879-1959), Paris, 1930 [2]; by inheritance to Denise Roché (Henri-Pierre Roché's widow), Paris, 1959-c. 1961 [3]; Cordier & Ekstrom, New York; sold to Mary Sisler, New York, 1963 [4]; The Museum of Modern Art, New York (Gift of Mrs. William Sisler and Edward James Fund), 1970.

[1] Commissioned in 1924. See Schwarz 1997, no. 409.
[2] Scarlett et Philippe Reliquet, Henri-Pierre Roché: l'enchanteur collectionneur, Paris: Ramsay, 1999, pp. 201-02. Calvin Tomkins, Duchamp: A Biography, New York: Henry Holt, 1997, p. 295.
[3] Francis Naumann, Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Making Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Ghent and Amsterdam: Ludion Press, 1999, p. 214.
[4] Mary and William Sisler Papers, II.4. The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York. Included in the exhibition Not Seen and/or Less Seen of/by Marcel Duchamp/Rrose Sélavy, 1904-1964. Mary Sisler Collection, Cordier & Ekstrom, New York, January 14-February 13, 1965 (no. 75).

If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please e-mail or write to:

Provenance Research Project
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019

Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053;; Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124;;

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information, or have spotted an error, please send feedback to