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Marcel Duchamp

Use this guide to start your research on Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) was one of the most influential artists of the modern era. Duchamp’s work—which includes paintings, sculptures, prints, and readymades—represents a legacy that is enormously important to our understanding of the development of modern art and of many issues that are central to the work of contemporary artists. The PMA is home to the world’s largest and most important collection of works by Marcel Duchamp.

Notable artworks by Marcel Duchamp in the PMA collection:

Books

Helpful books on Marcel Duchamp include:

Important rare items in our collection include:

Archival Collections

Materials related to Duchamp are interwoven across many collections and several departmental records in the Archives. Some core collections to get you started include:

  • Alexina and Marcel Duchamp Papers — The Alexina and Marcel Duchamp Papers are comprised of personal papers of Marcel Duchamp as well as published material documenting the artist and his work that were compiled and organized by his widow, Alexina Duchamp.
  • Étant donnés Curatorial Records — Étant donnés Curatorial Records were compiled by the Twentieth Century Art department and document the creation and installation of Étant donnés at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  • Marcel Duchamp Exhibition Records — The Marcel Duchamp Exhibition Records contain material created and collected by the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art (formerly the Twentieth Century Art Department), Philadelphia Museum of Art during the course of organizing and/or participating in exhibitions about Duchamp.
  • Marcel Duchamp Research Collection — The Marcel Duchamp Research Collection is comprised of ephemera, photographs, clippings, writings and correspondence related to Duchamp, his life, work, and legacy which was collected and compiled by the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  • Arensberg Archives — Art collectors Walter and Louise Arensberg amassed a seminal collection of Modern and pre-Columbian art between 1913 and 1950, when they presented it to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Arensberg Archives contain correspondence, ephemera, clippings, writings, personal and art collection records, and photographs documenting the couple's art collecting activities as well as their friendship with many important artists, writers and scholars, including Marcel Duchamp.

Other collections to consult may include:

  • Fiske Kimball Records — Fiske Kimball was the director of the museum when it acquired the Arensberg collection in th 1950s. His records include correspondence with Duchamp and the Arensbergs and are notable for documenting this important acquisition. 
  • Anne d'Harnoncourt Records — Before becoming director, Anne d'Harnoncourt was a curator for the Twentieth Century Art Department. She was a leading scholar on Duchamp. Her records contain correspondence with Duchamp's family, including Alexina Duchamp, and her research through the years. 
  • Other directors such as Henri Marceau and Evan Turner also corresponded with or about Duchamp through the years.
  • Departmental records such as those of the Marketing and Public Relations Department and Audiovisual Department contain documentation of the museum's long history of programming, events, exhibitions, and activities focused on Duchamp.
  • . . . and many more! 

Learn more about Using the Archives.