Marcel Duchamp 1912

Nude Descending a Staircase
Nude Descending a Staircase, No.2, 1912, oil/canvas, 58×35” (147.3 x 88.9 cm), Philadelphia Museum of Art.

 

Duchamp submitted the work to appear with the Cubists at the 28th exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants, Paris, 25 March through 16 May 1912. It appeared under the number 1001 of the catalogue, entitled simply Nu descendant l’escalier, not Nu descendant un escalier n° 2. This catalogue revealed the title of the painting to the general public for the first time, even though the painting itself would be absent from the exhibition. It has been noted disquisitively that the number 1001 of Duchamp’s entry at the 1912 Indépendants catalogue also happens to represent in the form 10.01 the integer 2 in the Golden ratio base, related to the golden section, something of much interest to the Duchamps and others of the Puteaux Group. This, of course, was by chance—and it is not known whether Duchamp was familiar enough with the mathematics of the golden ratio to have made such a connection—as it was by chance too the relation to Arabic Manuscript of One Thousand and One Nights dating back to the 14th century.”

Marey- Man walking, 1890–91
Marey- Man walking, 1890–91

The painting combines elements of both the Cubist and Futurist movements. In the composition, Duchamp depicts motion by successive superimposed images, similar to stroboscopic motion photography. Duchamp also recognized the influence of the stop-motion photography of Étienne-Jules Marey, particularly Muybridge’s Woman Walking Downstairs from his 1887 picture series, published as The Human Figure in Motion.”

 

Animated sequence of a woman walking downstairs
Animated sequence of a woman walking downstairs

 

 

 

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