Listening to Art

09.01: Marcel Duchamp, Paysage à Blainville

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Listening to Art, by William Denton.

Volume nine, number one: Paysage à Blainville by Marcel Duchamp.

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

We begin this new volume with a work by Marcel Duchamp, the greatest artist of the twentieth century. This is one of the earliest surviving works by Duchamp: it dates from 1902, the year he turned fifteen.

I quote the beginning of the new edition of Marcel Duchamp, by Dawn Ades, Neil Cox and David Hopkins, in Thames & Hudson’s World of Art series (p. 10):

Henri-Robert Marcel Duchamp was born in the Normandy village of Blainville-Crevon, near Rouen, on 28 July 1887. The fourth of seven children, of whom six survived infancy, Marcel, his two older brothers, Gaston (1875–1963) and Raymond (1876–1918), and his younger sister Suzanne (1889–1963) all became artists. Eugène Duchamp, his father, was the notary in the village: that is, local tax-collector, lawyer and financial advisor, and later mayor. Eugène’s parents were café owners in the Auvergne, and he was able to purchase the notarial practice at Blainville thanks to the dowry of his wife, Marie-Caroline-Lucie Duchamp (née Nicolle), whose father, Emile-Frédéric Nicolle, had made a fortune as a shipping agent in Rouen. Following his business success, Emile devoted himself to art; in 1878 he was admitted to the Beaux-Arts section of the World Fair in Paris and became one of Rouen’s most renowned artists with his etchings of the local landscape.

Duchamp later acknowledged his grandfather’s artistic influence on him, but was less flattering about his mother’s artistic talents, describing her watercolours as totally uninteresting.

This is a painting, oil on canvas, 61 cm wide by 50 cm high.

Now let’s listen to Paysage à Blainville by Marcel Duchamp, recorded at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, in Rome, on 01 June 2018.

Waveform of the field recording.

That was Paysage à Blainville by Marcel Duchamp. I hope you enjoyed listening to it as much as I did.

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All web sites accessed as of date of publication.

Ades, Dawn, Neil Cox and David Hopkins. Marcel Duchamp. 2nd ed. London: Thames & Hudson, 2021.

Wikipedia, s.v. “Marcel Duchamp,”