Collection 1880s–1940s

Suzanne Duchamp. Solitude-Funnel. 1921 588

Oil, enamel, cut-and-pasted papers, ink, and pencil on canvas, 40 3/8 x 33 1/16" (102.5 x 84 cm). Gift of Joan H. Tisch (by exchange)

Curator, Anne Umland: My name is Anne Umland. I'm a Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture here at The Museum of Modern Art. We're looking at this great painting collage by the French artist Suzanne Duchamp.

One of the things that is so magnetizing for me about this work is the way that those silver papers reflect light. And depending on how you position your body in front of the work, there is this flickering effect of circular motion.

You can see that she carefully inscribed its title Solitude-Entonnoir, in French, which roughly translates as Solitude-Funnel. And I think this phrase is deliberately ambiguous. Everyone of us might come up with a different associative image.

Suzanne Duchamp was part of the irreverent Paris Dada movement, which was a group of artists who set out to protest the cultural, social, political values that they held responsible for the outbreak and the carnage of World War I. It's like rational thinking was proven to be faulty. So the Dada artists set out to open a work up to things that you cannot control, whether by using materials that catch random effects of light or of playing with language in a way that separates words from a fixed relation to a meaning. Those are irrational rule-breaking strategies for making art.

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