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My first comprehension of a readymade was so momentous and life-altering that it is etched into my memory with such permanence that it seems to have happened yesterday, when, in actual fact, it occurred when I was eighteen years old, now some fifty-eight years ago.
During the winter of 2008 2009, the city of Buenos Aires hosted the first exhibition devoted to Marcel Duchamp held in Argentina, meant, essentially, to commemorate the artists nine-month sojourn there in 1918 19.
In my four decades working in New York as an art historian, teacher and art dealer, I never imagined that racist politics and white supremacist viewpoints could contaminate my profession.
In 1979, I learned that the archives of author Henri-Pierre Roché (1879 1959) were in the collection of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC) at the University of Texas at Austin.
The notion of what constitutes a work of art is as old as the concept of art itself. We were under the impression that we had it all figured out until the early years of the 20th century, when, adopting a pseudonym, a 29-year-old French artist submitted a commercially manufactured object to an art exhibition in New York and forced us to ask the question all over again.
For those interested in the private life of Marcel Duchamp, Ruth Brandons Spellbound by Marcel: Duchamp, Love and Art, might come as a welcomed contribution to the extant literature on the artist. Although we already knew something about this subjectthanks, in part, to the definitive biography on the artist by Calvin Tomkins (from which this book draws heavily)this is the first time an author has carefully read the unpublished diaries of Duchamps two closest friends during his early years in New York.
The title of this bookPicasso's War: How Modern Art Came to Americais a misnomer, because it implies that the struggle to bring modern art to America was Picassos. But as this book demonstrates more poignantly than perhaps any other, the artist did virtually nothing himself to promote or in other ways encourage the advancement of his work in the United States. In fact, he was at best indifferent.