Marcel Duchamp as Rrose Sélavy


One of the 20th centuries’ most preeminent photoartists, Man Ray left behind a number of iconic images of the century, including Black and White, Gertrude Stein, Tears (1932) and the above, a series of portraits of Marchel Duchamp as his female alter-ego, Rrose Selavy.

Always unconformist and subversive artist, Duchamp challenged conventional thought about artistic processes and art marketing, fathering the Dadaist and Surrealist movements. His greatest performance art as Rrose Selavy appeared in 1920. Originally, the name was Rose Sélavy, which sounds like: “Rose, c’est la vie.” In 1921, she acquired the extra “r” when she added her signature to L’Oeil Cacodylate, a painting by Francis Picabia. The name cleverly re-chosen to pun “Eros, c’est la vie”, an expression of everything Duchamp’s art is about; eros, that’s it, that’s all there is.

Through the decade, Man Ray and Duchamp collaborated on more photos of Sélavy, but Duchamp used his female pseudonym on only a few works.

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