Appearance Stripped Bare

19 February 2005 | ,

The more I read about him, the more puzzled I am by Marcel Duchamp‚Äôs Large Glass (The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors Even). I get as far as understanding that it is a painting of a machine and that The Green Box is roughly its instruction manual. I also more or less understand the relationship between the Bride‚Äôs section, the Bachelor’s section and the general functioning of the machine (inaccurately, or rather incompletely visualized in the videos below, I think)

I agree with Octavio Paz’s description and evaluation of the piece. However, I profoundly disagree with his interpretation and its links to Etant Donnees. Paz tries to dig an ancestral past and equate the Bride to ancient Hindi myths, to Diana and Artemis. While this reading may be appropriate as a distant context, en passant, it just presents one of the anamorphous dimensions of the Large Glass, reducing it to the 2 or 3 dimensions it is trying to avoid). The piece’s relation to technology, to the painting tradition, to science, to perspective, to gender (both feminine and masculine) are some of the other avenues which interpretation could follow, all of them interdependent.

Octavio Paz’s sets out on a huge task (to analyze the Finnegan’s Wake of the art world) without any other premise than to procure a ‘reading’ of the Large Glass. But, in Duchamp’s case, I wonder if it is not better either to follow a particular enterprise (ie. Does this work seduce?) or just leave the description and evaluation sections orphaned of the interpretation one.

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