Listening to Art

04.10: Florine Stettheimer, Portrait of Marcel Duchamp


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Listening to Art, by William Denton.

Volume four, number ten: Portrait of Marcel Duchamp by Florine Stettheimer.

Hello, and welcome to Listening to Art. I’m William Denton.

As mentioned in the last issue, one of Florine Stettheimer’s friends was Marcel Duchamp, the greatest artist of the twentieth century. He was just one of many who came to the Stettheimer salons. In his chapter “The Stettheimer Salon” (pp. 94–95) Matthew Abrams lists guests at at one 1916 party:

Writer, photographer, and Harlem Renaissance impresario Carl Van Vechten; artist Marcel Duchamp; art critic, connoisseur, and former Paris salon host Leo Stein (who cohosted with his sister, Gertrude Stein); photographer Baron Adolphe de Meyer; playwright Avery Hopwood; Peruvian diplomat Marquis de Buenavista; American artist Rockwell Kent; and many others.

Duchamp was friends with the Stettheimers for decades. Florine Stettheimer’s sister Carrie spent twenty-five years working on a dollhouse (now in the Museum of the City of New York), and Duchamp contributed a miniature version of his work Nude Descending a Staircase, about three inches high, to hang in its ballroom.

After Stettheimer died in 1944, Duchamp organized a retrospective. I quote from Duchamp: A Biography by Calvin Tomkins (p. 344):

[Duchamp] wrote to Monroe Wheeler, the Museum of Modern Art’s director of exhibitions, suggesting that the museum give her a memorial exhibition and offering his services to organize it. “Besides my personal admiration for her work,” he wrote to Wheeler, “I think her large allegories of New York as well as her portraits and family scenes deserve to be shown since, as you know, she seldom exhibited during her life.”

In the catalogue for the show, Henry McBride says (p. 51):

With this posthumous exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art the trial by the public of Miss Stettheimer’s work begins. I have no doubt whatever but that it will win permanent regard.

This is a painting, oil on canvas, 64.1 cm wide by 64.1 cm high.

Now let’s listen to Portrait of Marcel Duchamp by Florine Stettheimer, recorded while on tour at the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto, on 02 November 2017.

Waveform of the field recording.

That was Portrait of Marcel Duchamp by Florine Stettheimer. I hope you enjoyed listening to it as much as I did.

For more information and links to things I’ve mentioned, please visit listeningtoart.org.

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Bibliography

All web sites accessed as of date of publication.

Abrams, Matthew. “The Stettheimer Salon.” In Florine Stettheimer, eds. Matthias Mühling, Karin Althaus and Susanne Böller (Munich: Städtische Galerie Im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau, 2014.).

McBride, Henry. Florine Stettheimer. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1946.

Wikipedia, s.v. “Florine Stettheimer.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florine_Stettheimer.

Wikipedia, s.v. “Stettheimer Dollhouse.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stettheimer_Dollhouse.

Tomkins, Calvin. Duchamp: A Biography. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2014.