Suzanne Duchamp: Picturing Herself

Trent Building C5
Tuesday 14th March 2023 (16:30-18:30)

Suzanne Duchamp: Picturing Herself explores Duchamp’s portraits of herself, her family, and her friends as a way to frame her work in relationship to her avant-garde peers and collaborators. The small pamphlet Duchamp frères & soeur: œuvres d’art (1952) - accompanying an exhibition of the same title that Marcel Duchamp organized at the Rose Fried Gallery in New York featuring himself and his siblings - reproduces Suzanne Duchamp’s Self-Portrait (1922) alongside a list of paintings that were shown. Even though this might not seem unusual, it is puzzling when read in relationship to the page-spreads devoted to the Duchamp brothers. While the pamphlet reproduces photographic portraits of Jacques Villon, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, and Marcel Duchamp, the page that Marcel Duchamp designed for Suzanne Duchamp features instead a reproduction of one of her self-portraits. Why did Marcel Duchamp choose a self-portrait to represent Suzanne Duchamp rather than a photograph? What does this say about how they viewed each other?

In many regards, Suzanne Duchamp’s Self-Portrait that Marcel Duchamp selected to publish in Duchamp frères & soeur marked the temporal end to her collaborations with the Dadaists, a moment that also inaugurated a shift in her distinctive way of making art. In this seminar, I begin in 1952 and move backwards in order to reframe Suzane Duchamp in relation to other women artists. I take up Suzanne Duchamp’s Self-Portrait in Duchamp frères & soeur as a different kind of opening that offers a new manner of interpreting her art and life, and more broadly, the ways that the cosmopolitan women artists of the Parisian avant-garde pictured themselves through portraiture. This paper will turn from how Marcel Duchamp presented Suzanne Duchamp in Duchamp frères & soeur to a group of self-portraits and portraits of other women she made in the 1910s and 1920s. Through this overlapping chronology, we can interpret and explore the multiple ways Suzanne Duchamp constructed her self-image, as well as that of other women, during the period she was associated with Dada and immediately before and afterwards. These self-portraits open up to larger questions about how she constructed an image of herself as an artist in her own right.

Talia Kwartler is a curator and art historian based in Berlin. She holds a PhD in the History of Art from University College London where she wrote her doctoral thesis on Suzanne Duchamp. Prior to her PhD, she worked at MoMA on Francis Picabia (2016-2017) and Max Ernst (2017–2018). She holds a bachelor’s degree in Art and Archaeology with a certificate in Italian Language and Culture from Princeton University and a master’s degree in the History of Art and Visual Culture from the University of Oxford. She has published essays and exhibition reviews in several journals, anthologies, exhibition catalogues, and art magazines; and she has given talks at various institutions, including the American Academy in Rome, Centre Pompidou, Tate, and the University of Edinburgh. Her research has been supported by University College London, the INHA, the Max Weber Stiftung, and the Stiftung Arp. This seminar draws upon her book project – Suzanne Duchamp, par elle-même – that will be published later this year by the Fondation Giacometti and Éditions Fage. 

Centre for Research in Visual Culture

University of Nottingham
Lakeside Arts Centre
Nottingham, NG7 2RD