The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (La mariée mis à nu par ses célibataires, même) most often called The Large Glass, is an artwork by Marcel Duchamp.

Duchamp carefully created The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, working on the piece from 1915 to 1923. He executed the work on two panes of glass with materials such as lead foil, fuse wire, and dust. It combines chance procedures, plotted perspective studies, and laborious craftsmanship.

Duchamp's ideas for the Glass began in 1913, and he made numerous notes and studies, as well as preliminary works for the piece. The notes reflect the creation of unique rules of physics, and myth which describes the work. He published the notes and studies as The Green Box in 1934.

The notes describe that his "hilarious picture" is intended to depict the erratic encounter between the "Bride," in the upper panel, and her nine "Bachelors" gathered timidly below in an abundance of mysterious mechanical apparatus.

The Large Glass was exhibited in 1926 at the Brooklyn Museum before it was accidentally broken and carefully repaired by Duchamp. It is now part of the permanent collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Duchamp sanctioned replicas of The Large Glass, the first in 1961 for an exhibition at Moderna Museet in Stockholm and another in 1966 for the Tate Gallery in London.

Interpretation

Duchamp's art does not lend itself to simple interpretations, and The Large Glass is no exception; the notes and diagrams he produced in association with the project, ostensibly as a sort of guidebook, complicate the piece by, for example, describing elements that were not included in the final version as though they nevertheless exist, and "explaining" the whole assembly in stream-of-consciousness prose thick with word play and jokes.

Linda Dalrymple Henderson picks up on Duchamp's idea of inventing a "playful physics" and traces a quirky Victorian physics out of the notes and The Large Glass itself; numerous mathematical and philosophical systems have been read out of (or perhaps into) its structures.

Most critics, however, read the piece as an exploration of male and female desire as they complicate each other. One critic, for example, describes the basic layout as follows: "The Large Glass has been called a love machine, but it is actually a machine of suffering. Its upper and lower realms are separated from each other forever by a horizon designated as the 'bride's clothes.' The bride is hanging, perhaps from a rope, in an isolated cage, or crucified. The bachelors remain below, left only with the possibility of churning, agonized masturbation."

However, modern critics see the painting as an expresssion of the artist to ridicule criticism. Marjorie Perloff interprets the painting as "enigmatic" (34) in her piece "The Poetics of Indeterminacy: Rimbaud to Cage" (Princeton UP: 1999). She concludes that Duchamp's "'Large Glass' is also a critique of the very criticism it inspires, mocking the solemnity of the explicator who is determined to find the key" (34). Hence, she follows the school of deconstruction established by the French philosopher Derrida and helps to break down the hegemony of interpretation held by the Enlightment bourgeoisie. To quote the artist: "I believe that the artist doesn't know what he does. I attach even more importance to the spectator than to the artist."

See also




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