MARCEL DUCHAMP, Tonsure, 1921

MARCEL DUCHAMP, Tonsure, 1921
15 x 10 cm / 4″ x 6″
edition unknown
inv.MDuc 000-pr

Throughout his career Marcel Duchamp recasted accepted modes for assembling and describing identity. In 1917, having recently arrived in the United States, Duchamp found special significance in a mechanically produced photo-postcard that depicted him simultaneously from five different vantage points, thanks to a hinged mirror: ‘Five-Way Portrait of Marcel Duchamp’.

In 1921 Duchamp famously pictured himself as Rrose Sélavy (Eros c’est la vie: a pun translating to “Eros is life,” when pronounced aloud in French). He would associate himself with this female persona throughout the remainder of his career. At the same time, he posed for well-known photographs in which he sported an unconventional tonsure emblazoned with a star. Soon thereafter, he used mugshots to cast himself as a criminal of many aliases wanted for running an illegal gambling operation.

‘Portrait multiple de Marcel Duchamp’, 1917
gelatin silver print
photographer unknown

Another example of a staged portrait of Marcel Duchamp photographed by Man Ray and used for a Monte Carlo bond:

Marcel Duchamp, Monte Carlo Bond ‘Obligation de Cinq Cents Francs’, 1924
collage of colour lithograph with photograph by Man Ray of Marcel Duchamp’s soap-covered head

Photo courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, New York