Duchamp's final artwork, an internal chimney in an apartment in Cadaques, has been found:
The artist is believed to be responsible for a corner fireplace built within the residence in the resort of Cadaques in Catalonia where he spent the final months before his death in October 1968. [...]
"We knew about the chimney from references but it couldn't be found in the home Duchamp owned for the final seven years of his life," Mr Malla told The Daily Telegraph. "So I naturally thought it didn't exist until I met Richard Hamilton."
The British pop artist [...] directed him to a house that Duchamp had rented when he became too frail to climb the stairs of his own residence.
And at the top there we see Hamilton casually propping up the chimney.
A few precursors to the chimney are known: the assemblage Preliminary Studies and Tools for "Anaglyphic Chimney" (Cheminée anaglyphe), 1968 (video here, via Tout Fait), and the altogether sketchier Anaglyphic chimney, 1968 (ignore the menacing bee watermark hovering over it). Until now, there had merely been rumours of the physical existence of the chimney.
(There's much to write on chimneys, on smoke (married with the smell of a mouth or otherwise), on beautiful breath (Belle Haleine) and on the un-definable Duchampian un-concept of inframince. But let's leave these parenthetic breaths aside for now.)
The chimney stands at one end of a significant list of work that addressed, amongst other interests, spatial concerns:
- The Nude Descending a Staircase paintings of 1912: movement frozen and arrayed spatially
- A now-lost chimney ventilator, Pulled at Four Pins, 1915 - "Duchamp gave Pulled at Four Pins to his friend Louise Varese, who unfortunately misplaced it years later."
- a wall object placed on the floor (a coat-rack), or on a plinth (Fountain, 1917, the readymade versioned so many times it became a post-prefab)
- the Large Glass, 1915-23, the bachelors half particularly: think of the Glider sliding back and forth, and Steefel's description of it (erection tombe) popping out of the picture plan.
- the vertiginous spiralling space of Anemic Cinema, 1926
- Door Rue Larrey, 1927, a door (a joke, ajar) that's both open and closed simultaneously.
- the museums miniaturised into briefcases of 1935-41
- the space of a mile of string, 1942
- Etant Donnes (Given: 1. The Waterfall / 2.The Illuminating Gas), 1946-66, the erotic landscape placed inside a structure, secretly made after his avowed retirement from art in favour of chess, and hidden until after his death
- Eau et gaz a tous les etages...
And that list could no doubt grow - it makes me wonder whether a solid architectural view of Duchamp could be developed. There are clear secondary themes of optics and loss/vanished spaces to explore too.
Why Duchamp?: The Influence of Marcel Duchamp on Contemporary Architectural Theory and Practice; Duchamp & Architecture!!!???; Psycho Buildings at the Hayward Gallery; and bistre: "A colour made of chimney soot boiled, and then diluted with water, used by painters in washing their designs."