Bottomless Staircase

Nude Descending A Staircase By Marcel Duchamp Is The Daily Pic By Blake Gopnik

The Daily Pic: Marcel Duchamp's reworked photo of his most famous painting, a steal at $15 million.

(Courtesy Michael Rosenfeld Gallery)

After a day running around the Art Basel fair in Miami Beach, I came back to tried-and-true Marcel Duchamp for today’s Daily Pic. This work is on sale at Michael Rosenfeld’s booth for $15 million. It’s a photo of Duchamp’s semi-Cubist “Nude Descending A Staircase” (a painting that became infamous at its showing at the 1913 Armory show) which Duchamp lightly reworked with pencil, watercolor and white pastel, probably around 1915. It’s referred to as a “study” for a later version of the “Nude” that Duchamp painted for his patrons Louise and Walter Arensberg, but I can’t help feeling that Duchamp enjoyed blurring the distinction between photography and the hand-made, between originals and reproductions. In which case this ought to count as an “original”, fully complete work by Duchamp, and one that’s arguably more complex than the paintings it relates to.

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