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In 1913, Marcel Duchamp shocked the cultural establishment when he turned everyday objects into works of art simply by adding his signature: from a snow shovel to a bicycle wheel to a glass bottle of Paris air to a defaced image of the Mona Lisa.
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Marcel Duchamp kept a secret for over 20 years: while the art world had wrongly assumed that one of the 20th century's most important artists had given up creating art, Duchamp was building his final masterpiece, Etant Donnes ("given"). Duchamp didn't allow the piece to be viewed by the public until after his death in 1968. This left him shielded from the questions that developed after the piece debuted. Simply described, it is a peepshow. Through an old wooden façade, one looks through to see a sculpted open-legged nude lying in a field. The critics were stumped. What did Duchamp leave us with? This BBC documentary from 1997 dissects and examines the pieces of this assemblage. Including archival footage from a 1966 BBC interview and interviews with old lovers, friends, neighbors, and his stepchildren, the video sheds a wealth of light on the enigmatic Duchamp and his final work. In the end, we are left with a substantial basis to approach what becomes a remarkably personal piece. Serving as a fitting introduction, as well as an excellent source of material on Duchamp's later years, The Secret of Marcel Duchamp will even tame those stick-shaking critics who feel the man destroyed what he was never able to avoid--the world of art. --Ted Sonnenschein
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