Marcel Duchamp – Apolinère Enameled, 1916-1917

Marcel Duchamp. Apolinère Enameled , 19016-1917. Gouache and graphite on painted tin, mounted on cardboard. 9 5/8 x 13 3/8 inches (24.4 x 34 cm)

American (born France), 1887 – 1968.

Duchamp added pencil, paint, and cardboard to a painted tin advertisement for Sapolin enamel, an industrial paint, to create this “assisted” readymade. The sign’s manipulated lettering, a pun on the name of his friend Guillaume Apollinaire, the French writer and art critic, wryly calls attention to the readymade’s implicit critique of traditional painting.

Apolinère Enameled, was a humorous homage to his friend. The tin sign, which Duchamp probably obtained from a paint store, was an advertisement for Sapolin enamel, a brand of industrial paint commonly used on radiators. The artist carefully manipulated the lettering in the commercially printed plaque, obscuring the S in Sapolin and adding new letters in white paint to evoke the poet’s name, albeit intentionally misspelled. Duchamp also delicately shaded in pencil the reflection of the little girl’s hair in the mirror.

Other works:


The original Fountain by Marcel Duchamp photographed by Alfred Stieglitz at the 291 (Art Gallery) after the 1917 Society of Independent Artists exhibit. Stieglitz used a backdrop of The Warriors by Marsden Hartley to photograph the urinal. Source: Wikipedia In William Camfield’s Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain: Its History and Aesthetics in the Context of 1917, the author quotes from an interview with Duchamp on the origins of “R. Mutt”

“Duchamp stated many years later that the pseudonym “Mutt” came from the Mott Works [J.L. Mott Iron Works, manufacturer of the urinal] but was modified because “Mott was too close so I altered it to Mutt, after the daily strip cartoon “Mutt and Jeff” which appeared at the time, and with which everyone was familiar. Thus, from the start there was an interplay of Mutt: a fat little funny man, and Jeff: a tall thin man…And I added Richard [French slang for money-bags]. That’s not a bad name for a “piasotiere.” Get it? The opposite of poverty. But not even that much, just R. MUTT.”



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