Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp often played chess with composer John Cage. Even though Duchamp and I live in different historical periods, I nevertheless allowed myself to play a game of chess with him. The entire game is a metaphor embodied in my series of paintings. (Arsen Levonee).

Vitaly Patsukov and Arsen Levonee playing Chess (2015) by Arsen LevoneeMuseum of Fine Arts in Peredelkino

Marcel Duchamp lived in the previous century and left a bright footprint in the history of painting art. Duchamp created very few paintings. I suspect he might have even set himself such a goal – create as few paintings as possible. And yet despite that, his works did not lose their significance nor elegance.

Marcel Duchamp and Arsen Levonee Playing Chess (2015) by Arsen LevoneeMuseum of Fine Arts in Peredelkino

Duchamp was quite a unique character. He created paintings, then hid them in a shed, and gave instructions to his friends about their location. Those came, honestly searching for it, and when disappointedly were ready to leave because they couldn’t find it, they would serendipitously discover it not in the location where Duchamp had indicated, but in the location next to it. And the location was not chosen by accident. Duchamp is also known for creating a painting, not showing it to anybody, and indicating in his will that the painting can be uncovered only after his death. Quite famous is the history of a porcelain urinal sculpture, which he had purchased, signed, named it "Fountain", and carried it everywhere with him.

Levon, Silva and Lily (2015) by Arsen LevoneeMuseum of Fine Arts in Peredelkino

My own feeling is that Duchamp was neither a provocateur, nor a schemer. I think he just created and experienced it as a mundane part of his life. And all his simplicity and asceticism made his art so special and notable.

Bolero Performed by Maya Plisetskaya (2015) by Arsen LevoneeMuseum of Fine Arts in Peredelkino

I love his paintings, where he somehow magically creates monochrome small spaces, as for example, in the painting "Nude Descending a Staircase No.2." Although both George Braque and Pablo Picasso also had skillful mastery of that genre and had created a few more paintings than Marcel Duchamp, I think they did not reach Duchamp's ability to create unique spectral spaces, which have such a natural scenic appeal.

Y.C. 06 and the Painter (2015) by Arsen LevoneeMuseum of Fine Arts in Peredelkino

Marcel Duchamp worked on one of his paintings for eight years, and when has realized that he had lost interest in it, he decided that he was done and the painting was finished.

The impact of Duchamp was so significant that architect Frank Gehry, inspired by his paintings, created a unique architectural design of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. It is often called the tin gold rose in the desert.

Emandela Essen 11-25 (2015) by Arsen LevoneeMuseum of Fine Arts in Peredelkino

It so happened that painting influenced architecture. I have already tried the reverse, with architecture influencing my paintings. Although the Museum in Bilbao did not poseas the "model” for me, while creating I was actually thinking about the very tin rose in the desert, which ultimately became the most prominent temple of contemporary art.

Chess rematch: Marcel Duchamp and Arsen Levonee (2015) by Arsen LevoneeMuseum of Fine Arts in Peredelkino

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Arsen Levonee

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