Selected works from the exhibition | MoMA

Selected works from the exhibition

Wooden box, with three threads glued to three painted canvas strips, each mounted on a glass panel, and three wooden slats, shaped along one edge to match the curves of the threads. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Katherine S. Dreier Bequest, 1953

Marcel Duchamp. 3 Standard Stoppages (3 Stoppages étalon). 1913–14

Wooden box, with three threads glued to three painted canvas strips, each mounted on a glass panel, and three wooden slats, shaped along one edge to match the curves of the threads. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Katherine S. Dreier Bequest, 1953

To a large degree, 4'33" and the works preceding it were inspired by Duchamp, in particular by his employment of “chance operations” as championed in his 3 Standard Stoppages. In constructing this piece, Duchamp dropped three meter-long pieces of thread onto a canvas, letting them fall as they may, then cut their variable silhouettes to display the inherent indeterminacy of life, even in so-called standardized measurements. Speaking about the influence of his friend and mentor, Cage noted: I always admired [Duchamp’s] work, and once I got involved with chance operations, I realized he had been involved with them, not only in art but also in music, 50 years before I was. When I pointed this out to him, Marcel said, “I suppose I was 50 years ahead of my time.”

Wooden box, with three threads glued to three painted canvas strips, each mounted on a glass panel, and three wooden slats, shaped along one edge to match the curves of the threads. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Katherine S. Dreier Bequest, 1953
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