Obelisk Art History

In Advance of the Broken Arm

Marcel Duchamp, 1915
In Advance of the Broken Arm, Marcel Duchamp
In Advance of the Broken Arm, zoomed in
132 cmIn Advance of the Broken Arm scale comparison
See In Advance of the Broken Arm in the Kaleidoscope

In Advance of the Broken Arm is a Dadaist Wood and Steel artwork created by Marcel Duchamp in 1915. It lives at the MOMA, Museum of Modern Art in New York. The image is © Estate of Marcel Duchamp / ARS, New York / ADAGP, Paris, and used according to Educational Fair Use, and tagged Readymade, Sculpture and Phallic Symbols. Source

Some jokes are worth telling over and over. In 1915 Marcel Duchamp walked into a hardware store, purchased a snow shovel, signed it, dated it, called it In Advance of the Broken Arm and hung it from his studio ceiling. Art! This intentional perversion of artistic creation is called a ‘readymade'—claiming a found object as an artwork. Readymades were a popular form of Dadaist art, and Duchamp is often cited as the inventor of the idea, however, for all his innovation, we believe it was his much wilder friend Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven who created the first Readymades.

Duchamp ‘remade’ In Advance of the Broken Arm many times. The image above is from fourth version, created in 1964.

Reed Enger, "In Advance of the Broken Arm," in Obelisk Art History, Published August 15, 2017; last modified September 19, 2022, http://arthistoryproject.com/artists/marcel-duchamp/in-advance-of-the-broken-arm/.

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The Writings Of Marcel Duchamp, Recommended Reading

For an infamous art-trickster, Marcel Duchamp wrote seriously about the nature of art and artists as 'mediumistic beings navigating a labyrinth beyond time and space.' Very worth a read.

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