Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia, Tate Modern, London

15th February 2008 at 00:00

When Marcel Duchamp presented his famous "Nude Descending a Staircase" for a Cubist exhibition in Paris, he was told to scrub out the title or withdraw the painting.

Typically, he wasted little time over his response. "I went immediately to the show and took my painting home in a taxi. It was a turning point in my life," he recalled.

An exhibition at Tate Modern in London, starting this week, looks at the urinal-touting antics of the famous controversialist, together with his pals Man Ray and Francis Picabia.

It features crowd-pleasers such as the Mona Lisa-with-tache "L.H.O.O.Q," plus lush paintings from Picabia and Man Ray's instantly recognisable black-and-white rayographs.

The show looks at how this collection of exiles and immigrants came together in New York to form the Dadaist movement and the playfully-titled Societe Anonyme, effectively the first museum for modern art.

Acolytes hailed their flashy, jokey style as the way forward for art. But Man Ray warned admirers not to take his work so seriously. "There is no progress in art, any more than there is progress in making love," he once said. "There are simply different ways of doing it."

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a TES/ TESS subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


Get Tes online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to Tes online and the Tes app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off Tes Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the Tes online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order today