Art: Variations on an Enigma

Marcel Duchamp, who died in 1968 at the age of 81, is universally acknowledged as a founder of modern art. But then, had he died in 1923 at the age of 36 he would also have been universally acknowledged as a founder of modern art. The difference between the oeuvre of the young man and the old is one, and only one, major piece.

What happened in those intervening years? Neglect? Young artists constantly acknowledged their debt to the aging experimentalist. A new career? The master had no other interests save a lifelong fascination...

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