020712: Lenbachhaus Kunstbau - Marcel Duchamp in Munich 1912

Lenbachhaus Art Building Marcel Duchamp in Munich 1912 31.3.12 – 15.07.12 On the Stairs by Stephan Maier No-one takes any notice when you arrive in Munich and get out of the train. But when someone like Marcel Duchamp once amused himself in the Bavarian provincial capital, a large reception is prepared for him and the "negligible" time lag of exactly 100 years arguably lies in the Bavarian way of life and is established in its homely, protracted "we are us" sovereignty. Focusing on the artist's three-month stay in Munich, the Kunstbau der Städtischen Galerie in the Lenbachhaus is showing, for the first time, two paintings which were created there flanked by numerous indicative sketches and the always-fascinating miniature museum of his "Boxes-in-the-case", and complements Duchamp's transition from painter to reticent thinker and chess player in works that were realised earlier or conceptually fixed. Besides diverse, rather luckless affairs, Duchamp's self-ordered exile dates back to the brusque rejection of "Act on Descending Stairs, No. 2" by the Paris Salon des Indépendants and the Hardliner Cubist Clique around Albert Gleizes. The interim icons of classical Modernism– never before seen in Germany! - appeared contradictory to the artist's encrusted principles of fragmentation and dissection. "An act never descends the stairs, an act lies ...." such the jury's rationale. Which was reason enough for Duchamp to leave the city without any explanation and to ensconce himself in the house of his Munich friend, Max Bergmann, the "Cow painter", in June 1912, and afterwards in the Barerstraße 65. Alone the fact that the "Munich" works – "The transition from Virgin to Bride" and the "Bride" are presented in one space together in a developmentally historical dialogue with the “Act on Descending Stairs, No. 2”, as well as the "Great Glass" (1915-1923) is the true sensation of the wonderfully concentrated exhibition. In and between both paintings, the disengagement from every Cubist obligation and the shackles and limitations of the panel painting is accomplished. Munich is also the well-considered farewell from painting in instalments. In Munich, Duchamp developed the first sketches for "The Bride Denuded by her Bachelors, actually (Great Glass)" – without a doubt one of the most masterful mystery plays of the 20th century. And one should simply leave the numerous interpretative attempts at interpretation to one side in front of this terrifying contemporary genre picture of the mechanised battle of the sexes, this cryptic sense and sex machine concept: master work. Not difficult to make out is the further technical development of motives, which are applied quaintly-conventionally in the "Bride". That the "Great Glass", based as unrealistic high-tech verre églomisé, is based on the esteem of the originally used folk art and in the developed modern art technique for the "Blue Rider" surely has to do with the influences of the Swabian bohemian artists. But how did Duchamp develop these ideas that lead him gently but surely out of the adventurous playground of painting into the unforeseeable space of concept and already in 1913 lead him to "Readymade", a chapter that with good reason remains closed? "My sojourn in Munich was the place of my total freedom", said the artist later. Naturally he read and commented on Kandinsky's "The Art of Spiritual Harmony", he visited the neighbouring Alte Pinakothek regularly and there discovered Lucas Cranach for himself: that may help to explain the development of his "historical spirit" and his belief in the spiritual quality of the art of every epoch; frequent visits to the technical Eldorado of the Deutsches Museum and the Bavarian Industrial Exhibition, both of which possibly – although not definitely proved - influenced his foible for the anonymized machine aesthetic of art, life and love, And so the talented self-producer leaves much about his stay and his newly won "Munich freedom" in the dark. However: "Munich had a lot of style during these days", says Duchamp ambiguously and then airs the secret of his, even today difficult to understand, enthusiasm: "I never spoke to a living soul but I had a great time". Lenbachhaus Kunstbau 80333 Munich, Underground station Königsplatz Tel: +49-89-23 33 20 00 Fax: +49-89-23 33 20 03/4 E-mail: lenbachhaus@muenchen.de http://www.lenbachhaus.de Opening times: Tue-Sun 10 - 18 h

Lenbachhaus Kunstbau
80333 München, U-Bahnhof Königsplatz
Tel: +49 89 233 969 33
Email: lenbachhaus@muenchen.de
Öffnungszeiten: Di - So 10 - 18 h, Do 10 - 20 h

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