Marcel Duchamp interview on Art and Dada (1956)

Filmed amidst the Arensberg collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where 35 works by Marcel Duchamp are gathered, this 1956 interview features the artist talking with James Johnson Sweeney, former director of the Guggenheim Museum. Duchamp describes his transition away from Impressionism toward a Cubist, and then post-Cubist, approach, providing commentary while standing before Nude Descending a Staircase (“I was not aware of Italian Futurism when I painted it”) and The Large Glass (“The two crackings are symmetrically arranged and there is…almost an intention there…a ready-made intention, in other words, that I respect and love.”). These concepts are paradoxically, although quite logically, articulated alongside his desire for “dryness” and mechanical precision. Viewers also gain insight into Duchamp’s thoughts on painting for an “ideal” public—a notion he clearly distinguishes from ivory-tower elitism.