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During his stay in Switzerland in 1946 Marcel Duchamp spent a few days at the Hotel Bellevue in Chexbres, high above Lake Geneva and overlooking one of Switzerland’s most famous vistas. The nearby waterfall Le Forestay, cascading through the steep vineyards of the Lavaux towards the lake, inspired Duchamp to create his last great masterwork, the assemblage Étant donnés: 1. La chute d’eau, 2. Le gaz d’éclairage. Duchamp photographed the Swiss landscape and included the images in his enigmatic work that has been permanently installed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art since 1969. His three-dimensional environmental tableau offers an unforgettable and untranslatable experience to those who peer through the two small holes in the solid wooden door.
The artist-duo Caroline Bachmann and Stefan Banz set out to recreate Duchamp’s experience. They discovered exactly where Duchamp stood with his camera, and over several years they took countless pictures of the breathtaking views. Their work What Duchamp Abandoned for the Waterfall consists of many color photographs of one of Switzerland’s most extraordinary landscapes. This companion book presents 100 striking images as well as an essay by the art critic Luc Debraine, who examines the artist’s research in dialogue with Duchamp’s Étant donnés, analyzing how Duchamp made use of the location for his artistic intentions and what photographing this particular waterfall meant to him.
This beautiful book will delight fans of Duchamp and modern art and provide a striking new perspective on one of the most important works of twentieth century art.
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Caroline Bachmann is professor of painting and drawing at the Haute École d'Art et de Design in Geneva. Stefan Banz has been working as a self-taught freelance artist since 1993, using various media and techniques. He also works as a writer of fiction and dramatic works and of critical texts on art and artists.
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