Marcel Duchamp. Fresh Widow. New York 1920

Marcel Duchamp Fresh Widow New York 1920

  • The Museum of Modern Art, Floor 5, Collection Galleries

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.

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.
Medium
Miniature French window, painted wood frame, and panes of glass covered with black leather
Dimensions
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)
Credit
Katherine S. Dreier Bequest
Object number
151.1953
Copyright
© 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris / Estate of Marcel Duchamp
Department
Painting and Sculpture

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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