Posts Tagged ‘Marcel Duchamp in New York City’

Who is the man with the pen on 14th Street?

January 29, 2018

I’ve been curious about him since the 1990s—this sturdy man clad in a loose-fitting shirt sitting in a chair while holding what looks like a pen to a piece of paper.

His image is carved above the doorway of the five-story walkup residence at 210 West 14th Street.

Who is he? A writer I imagine, or an illustrator, or some other kind of artist.

Whatever he’s doing, he seems reflective and serious, engrossed in his work.

Did an artist or writer live and work here? A search of possibilities turns up something interesting.

From 1942 until his death in 1968, French-born painter, sculptor, and Dada pioneer Marcel Duchamp had a studio in this building on the top floor.

(In fact, “Duchamp” is still written on the buzzer outside the front door, a nice turn Duchamp would probably get a kick out of).

It’s one of many places Duchamp lived in the city after he first arrived in 1915. “It was here that, using found objects from his walks around the neighborhood, Duchamp secretly constructed ‘Etant Donnes,’ when the public had thought he’d given up art,” states

Is the man with the pen Duchamp? It seems unlikely, based on what Duchamp actually looked like.

The ground-floor commercial space doesn’t hold any clues. Various tenants leased the space over the years, most notably a Spanish food store called Casa Moneo from 1929 to 1988.

Casa Moneo was one of the last holdouts from when West 14th Street was the center of Manhattan’s “Little Spain” enclave.

The identity of the man and his significance at this address remains a mystery.

The 1913 art exhibit that scandalized New York

March 1, 2012

The organizers of the 1913 International Exhibit of Modern Art knew their show would be a magnet for attention and criticism.

Consisting of more than 1,200 paintings, sculptures, and decorative pieces by 300 bold avant-garde European and American artists, the exhibit opened on February 17, 1913, at the Lexington Avenue Armory on 25th Street.

Immediately, it was derided by the press and public.

A New York Times letter described it as the art of “savages and children.” Even President Theodore Roosevelt reportedly weighed in by announcing, “That’s not art!”

Few knew what to make of Cubist, Symbolist, and Impressionist artists. Taking a big hit was Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. One critic said it resembled “an explosion in a shingle factory.”

Still, at 25 cents to $1 per person for admission and running until mid-March, it drew packed crowds and was considered a success, ultimately introducing Modern art to a nation used to Realism and signaling a “rebellion in art.”

Here’s a list of the artists (such as John Sloan, Henri Matisse, Paul Cezanne, and Edvard Monk) whose work appeared in the show.