Smithsonian Collections

Marcel Duchamp

Image for Marcel Duchamp
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Exhibition Label
John D. Schiff, who frequently photographed Marcel Duchamp and documented his work, created this portrait in 1957, when Duchamp's star was on the rise in the United States. Two years earlier, Duchamp had officially become an American citizen. He would play an increasingly important role in the American art scene, participating in exhibitions, giving lectures, and exerting a strong influence on young artists. Schiff positions Duchamp in a frontal pose and under direct light, emphasizing Duchamp's facial features and highlighting the wrinkles around his eyes and mouth. The sharp contrasts of light and dark, the shadowy background, and the closely cropped composition, as well as Duchamp's penetrating gaze, compel the viewer to connect with image. While Duchamp's gaze is direct, his eyes remain shrouded in shadows, imbuing this seemingly straightforward portrait with a detached, enigmatic air.
John D. Schiff, 1907 - 1976
Marcel Duchamp, 28 Jul 1887 - 2 Oct 1968
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Gelatin silver print
Image: 24.6 x 19.6cm (9 11/16 x 7 11/16")
Sheet: 25.2 x 20.3cm (9 15/16 x 8")
Mat: 45.7 x 35.6cm (18 x 14")
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National Portrait Gallery Collection
Object number
Marcel Duchamp: Visual Arts\Artist
Marcel Duchamp: Male