Collection 1880s–1940s


Readymade in Paris and New York

Fall 2019–Fall 2020


Marcel Duchamp. In Advance of the Broken Arm. 1964 (fourth version, after lost original of November 1915). Wood and galvanized-iron snow shovel, 52" (132 cm) high. Gift of The Jerry and Emily Spiegel Family Foundation. © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris/Estate of Marcel Duchamp
  • MoMA, Floor 5, 508 The David Geffen Wing

The term “readymade” first appeared in a letter Marcel Duchamp wrote in 1915 to his sister, Suzanne Duchamp, herself an artist. He was living in New York; she was in Paris. He invited her to collaborate in creating a “Readymade, remotely,” by inscribing and signing a metal bottle rack he had left behind in his Paris studio “après Marcel Duchamp” (“after Marcel Duchamp”). By designating mass-produced, utilitarian objects such as bottle racks, bicycle wheels, or snow shovels as readymade art, Marcel Duchamp challenged centuries of thinking about the artist’s role as a skilled creator of original handmade works.

The Duchamps were joined by like-minded artists—including Man Ray and Francis Picabia—who all upended conventional notions of what art can be. Animated by a finely honed sense of the absurd, these artists both embraced and critiqued modernity, filling their works with references to the industrial technologies, mass-produced objects, and machines that increasingly defined contemporary life.

Organized by Anne Umland, The Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Senior Curator, with Jennifer Harris, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture.

26 works online


Installation images

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