“Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase: An Homage

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Dutch Wife, 2008 String Picture 32 X 20 © Robert Forman 2008
“Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase: An Homage
Curated by: Francis M. Naumann

24 West 57th Street
10019 New York
February 15th, 2013 - April 15th, 2013
Opening: February 15th, 2013 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

212 582 3201
Tue-Sat 11-6
mixed-media, digital, video-art, conceptual, surrealism, figurative, modern, traditional


July 28, 2012                                                            Contact: Dana




“Marcel Duchamp’s

Nude Descending a Staircase:

An Homage





 (February 15 – April 15, 2013)


To celebrate the original Armory Show—which was held at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City in February-March of 1913—Francis M. Naumann Fine Art plans to mount an exhibition entitled “Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase: An Homage.”  This show will open at the Naumann gallery on February 15, 2013, exactly 100 years to the day when the Armory Show opened in New York.  For one week—from March 7 through March 10, 1913—the show will be temporarily dismantled at the gallery and reinstalled in a booth at the Armory Show at the Piers.

                  Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase was the unexpected sensation of the Armory Show in 1913, more than for any other reason, because visitors were unable to find the descending nude promised by the painting’s descriptive title.  Moreover, for a somewhat prudish American public, the title was considered provocative: a nude doing anything more than reclining was more than they were willing to envision.  As a result, the painting was the focus of critical attacks and ridicule.  Since they were unable to locate the nude, frustrated critics compared the repeated, abstract forms of the painting to sights with which they were more familiar: “rush hour at the subway,”  “an elevated railroad stairway in ruins after an earthquake,” and, most memorably, “an explosion in a shingle factory.”

                  Included in the homage exhibition will be a number of important historical items relating directly to Duchamp’s Nude, such as several examples of the pochoir (stencil-colored reproduction) he made of the painting in 1937.  Also on view will be the original hand-colored copy that he made to serve as a guide for the pochoir colorist, which was mounted into the lid of a valise dedicated to Sidney Janis.   The Janis valise will form the centerpiece for the show, and works by contemporary artists will hang on the walls of the gallery surrounding it. 

                  For this exhibition, a number of artists have agreed to create new works relating to Duchamp’s Nude Descending.  They include Mike Bidlo (who has agreed to make a photographic copy that replicates the situation that brought Duchamp’s 1916 version of the painting into existence), Wim Delvoye (who will be showing a sculpture called Twisted Double Dump Truck Staircased), Marcel Dzama, T.R. Ericsson, Robert Forman (an erotically charged nude female figure descending a staircase executed in his usual “thread-painting” technique), Kathleen Gilje (a variation of Gerhard Richter’s version of the painting),  Joseph Kosuth, Peter Saul (who has already made several variations of the painting in his hallmark style), Sherrie Levine (eighteen framed postcards of the Nude Descending), Carlo Maria Mariani (a nude skeletal figure mysteriously ascending a staircase), Sophie Matisse (a rendition of the painting without the nude, from her so-called “removal” series), Yoko Ono (who will be showing a film made in 1965-66), and Richard Prince (a variation of his de Kooning series). Other artists have already made works that draw inspiration from Duchamp’s masterpiece, such as Larry Rivers (one of five variations he made of the painting for its 75th anniversary in 1988), Mel Ramos (his Nude Descending a Staircase from 1987), Steve Gianakos (Fat Girl Descending Her Stair Case, 1988) and Douglas Vogel (An Explosion in a Shingle Factory, which recreates a cartoon image of the painting entirely with house shingles). 

                  The exhibition shall be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, with a text written by Bradley Bailey, a Professor of Art History at Saint Louis University.  Bailey has written extensively on Duchamp, particularly on his identity as a chess player.  He will be writing not only on the historical component of the exhibition, but also about the work of contemporary artists included in the show.

                  For all intents and purposes, the exhibition is considered an invitational; only artists already inspired by Duchamp’s conceptually oriented approach to art and the art-making process have been invited to participate.


Francis M. Naumann Fine Art specializes in the art of the Dada and Surrealist periods, as well as a selection of contemporary artists whose work displays related aesthetic sensibilities.

Catalogue: A fully illustrated catalogue shall accompany the exhibition.

Gallery Hours: Tuesday through Saturday: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM.

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