Duchamp collection descending the art museum steps — and off to travel the world

Marcel Duchamp's ''Fountain,'' on exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is an ordinary urinal purchased in a hardware store. This is a 1950 version of the 1917 original submitted under the pseudonym R. Mutt to the inaugural exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in New York

Marcel Duchamp's ''Fountain,'' on exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is an ordinary urinal purchased in a hardware store. This is a 1950 version of the 1917 original submitted under the pseudonym R. Mutt to the inaugural exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in New York. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The Philadelphia Museum of Art will send its collection of work by Marcel Duchamp out on the road this year.

The museum is creating a traveling show with about 90 objects from its Duchamp collection. In October, on the 50th anniversary of his death, “The Essential Duchamp” will begin touring Japan, South Korea, and Australia with stops planned in Tokyo, Seoul and Sydney.

The museum has the largest collection of work by Duchamp in the world and a dedicated Duchamp room — Gallery 182,

“For more than 60 years, the PMA has had a major responsibility to take care of the legacy of Duchamp,” said Matthew Affron, the Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art. “This is a way of doing that for audiences where — in Asia and the Pacific — his name is known, but many people will not have had so many opportunities to see so many of his works before.”

For example, Duchamp’s famous Cubist painting, “Nude Descending a Staircase,” has never been Down Under. The touring show will feature work from all phases of Duchamp’s long and varied career, as well as photos and documents from the museum archive.

While Marcel is away, back at home Gallery 182 will be used to show work by his siblings. Four of the six Duchamp children were significant artists of their time.

“His brothers Jacques and Raymond, who, like Marcel, were key figures in the Cubist Movement before WWI,” said Affron. “Their sister Suzanne also had an extremely interesting period in her work, around the time Marcel was working in ‘The Large Glass.’ ”

“The Large Glass” is a freestanding glass sculptural piece Marcel Duchamp personally installed in the museum. That, and the room-sized Étant donnés cannot be moved — they are built into the museum and permanently on display in Philadelphia.

Painting, prints, and sculpture by the Duchamp family pulled from the museum’s collection — plus a painting by Suzanne, which Affron hopes to borrow — will be arranged around “The Large Glass.”

Duchamp’s older brother, Raymond, died at 41 of typhoid. While the traveling show marks the 50th anniversary of Marcel’s death, the Gallery 182 show will mark the 100th anniversary of Raymond’s death.

Editor’s note: This article was updated to reflect that the Jacques and Raymond were key figures in the Cubist Movement before WWI, not WWII. We regret the error.

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