Marcel Duchamp, Fresh Widow, 1920/1960 © Succession Marcel Duchamp / Bildupphovsrätt 2016

Duchamp in the Collection

There are about thirty works in the Moderna Museet collection that have been attributed to Marcel Duchamp, which makes it one of the world’s leading collections of Duchamp next to the holdings of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the USA. Moderna Museet also owns some of the earliest replicas that were made before the art historian and collector Arturo Schwarz and the artist Richard Hamilton made their reconstructions of Marcel Duchamp’s works.

The contacts between Marcel Duchamp and Moderna Museet originated in connection with the work on the celebrated exhibition Rörelse i konsten [Movement in Art] (1961). Pontus Hultén (1924–2006), director of the museum from 1959 until 1972, bequeathed his art collection, his books and his records to Moderna Museet in his will. His personal papers included a number of letters in which as early as in the mid-1950s the young Karl G. (Pontus) Hultén was corresponding with Marcel Duchamp. When this exhibition opens material from the museum’s archives relating to Marcel Duchamp and his work will be presented in the Pontus Hultén Study Gallery. In this gallery (inaugurated in 2008) works of art are displayed on moveable screens based on an idea of Pontus Hultén himself in collaboration with the architect Renzo Piano.

The concept of Movement in Art derived from a number of minor exhibitions during the 1950s in Stockholm and Paris which introduced and assembled artistic works that went beyond the established image of modern art at that time. The exhibition was organised in collaboration with Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, where it was on display under the name of Bewogen Beweging from March, 10 until April, 16, 1961, before it then opened on May 16 at Moderna Museet to continue through the summer until September, 10. Hultén wanted a loan of “The Large Glass”, La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même (1915–23), from Philadelphia, but as this was not possible the art critic Ulf Linde (b. 1929) and the artist Per Olof Ultvedt (1927–2006) were commissioned to produce a reconstruction, which Linde carried out in consultation with Duchamp, who also signed it “Certifié pour copie / conforme / Marcel Duchamp / Stockholm 1961”. Movement in Art included ten works by Marcel Duchamp, four of them reconstructions from 1960 or 1961. Three of these still belong to the collection. In addition to the glass they are Rotary Glass Plaques (1920/1961), a replica made by Pontus Hultén, P O Ultvedt and Magnus Wibom and donated by them in the same year, as well as Roue de bicyclette (1913/1960), which was donated in 1961 by Ulf Linde and P O Ultvedt. The work entitled Door, 11 rue Larrey (1927/1961), a replica by Pontus Hultén and Daniel Spoerri, was destroyed after the exhibition, but Fresh Widow (1920/1960) still also survives from that period, a donation from Ulf Linde. With these works Ulf Linde began his lifelong interest in Marcel Duchamp’s oeuvre, which has resulted in the intimate links between his research into and interpretations of the artist’s works and Moderna Museet’s Duchamp collection. Ulf Linde had a background as a jazz musician, art critic in Dagens Nyheter, a Stockholm daily, and teacher at the Academy of Art in Stockholm. He was a curator at Moderna Museet between 1973 and 1976 and then, from 1977, Director of the Thiel Gallery on Djurgården in Stockholm for almost twenty years.

“The Large Glass” is one of the most discussed and enigmatic works by Duchamp and it embodies a dialogue with ideas that found expression in his La boîte verte from 1911–20/ 1934. The first “Swedish” replica was made, as stated above, for the exhibition Movement in Art and was a donation from Marcel Duchamp and Ulf Linde in 1961. The work on “The Large Glass” is described, for instance, by Ulf Linde in his book Marcel Duchamp from 1986. Thirty years later Linde produced another version of “The Large Glass”, this time together with the artists John Stenborg (b. 1957) and Henrik Samuelsson (b. 1960), which was completed in 1991–92. This was authorised by Madame Alexina Duchamp in March 1992. There is also a replica of the work in a smaller version intended for serial production for an exhibition arranged in 1960 by the publishing company Bok-Konsum. It turned out, however, to be too complex and expensive to produce. This replica was donated to Moderna Museet in 2011 by the artists Louise Lidströmer (b. 1948) and P G Thelander (b. 1936), who had been given it by P O Ultvedt in exchange for one of Thelander’s works. The reason for the great interest all over the world in the loan of Moderna Museet’s glass is that for conservation reasons it is impossible to loan out the original version now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. For the same reason loans have only been made of the Moderna Museet’s glass from 1991–92.

During 1963 Ulf Linde decided to make several replicas of Marcel Duchamp’s readymades, to which the artist agreed. These were signed by Duchamp at exhibitions all over the world, where they were displayed in the early 1960s. The collection includes, for instance, a bottle rack dated 1914/1963, signed by Marcel Duchamp in Milan in 1964, with the information that the work has been corrected by Ulf Linde in 1976. The Friends of Moderna Museet donated this work to the museum in 1965. In all, this donation comprised nine replicas, all the work of Ulf Linde. During the 1970s the museum acquired further works, either through purchase or as donations from Ulf Linde. There was also a purchase from Bok-Konsum in 1960 of Rotoreliefs (1935/1959), signed by Duchamp and bearing the inscription: “édition MAT, oeuvres d’art multipliées, marcel duchamp, rotorelief, No 27/100”.

Another interesting donation was made by the financier and publisher Tomas Fischer in 1985 – dedicated to Ulf Linde. It includes the pencil drawing Étant donnés: 1° la chute d’eau, 2° le gaz d’éclairage… Esquisse (1947), signed ”Marcel Duchamp Dec 47”, as well as Le gaz d’éclairage et la chute d’eau (1948–49), which consists of painted leather on plaster, attached to velvet and enclosed by a gold frame. These are studies for the work that occupied Duchamp during the last twenty years of his life. The work (Étant donnés: 1° la chute d’eau, 2° le gaz d’éclairage…, 1946–66) forms part of the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, to which it was donated by Duchamp on condition that it was not to be displayed before his death.

In connection with Pontus Hultén’s donation in 2005 Moderna Museet acquired another six works by Duchamp for the collection: an etching, a gelatin silver print, two lithographs and a poster as well as a Boîte-en-valise (de ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy), (1942– 54). This last item was dedicated to Pontus Hultén by Madame Alexina Duchamp with the inscription: “à Pontus Hultén avec ma plus grande joie et affection Teeny”. There was already a Boîte-en-valise in the collection that had been bought in 1962 from Galerie Burén in Stockholm. This brief presentation based on Moderna Museet’s Duchamp collection shows that there is justification for further research into the significance of Marcel Duchamp’s contacts in Sweden for the reception of his work from the 1960 onwards.

Compiled by Annika Gunnarsson and Anna Tellgren

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