July 28, 2009
The one piece of fine-art-inspired kitsch I’ve been craving ever since I first heard of it is a long-unavailable shower curtain reproducing “The Large Glass” (“The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even”) by MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968), who was used to seeing facsimiles of his greatest works in bathrooms. He was the king’s jester of modern art, the guy who figured out the funniest possible ways to express its radical potential, even when he wasn’t presenting seltzer-squirters like “L.H.O.O.Q.”; he called “The Large Glass” a “hilarious picture,” and he was right about that, although it’s the rare joke that benefits from an explanation. Duchamp had about a dozen brilliant ideas, which is eleven more than a lot of excellent artists ever have, and one of them was the wit with which he recycled the others — “Box in a Valise,” the mass-produced suitcase with miniature reproductions of his greatest hits, is both an exquisite object and a merciless joke about artistic canons.
READ MORE about members of the Modernist Generation (1884–93).