[Changes made 8/6/97: Cocteau (suspect anyway) replaced with Redonnet (whom I discovered after writing this). 183.2 replaced by 183.5 (keeping in the spirit of Redonnet).]
[This is the text of the reprise version, which is identical to the original, except: ] [....] The only changes I have made are to correct one instance of Duchamp's mistaken French and to add a few relevant URLs here:
When visiting New York last week, I dropped by the Philedelphia Museum of Art to see what is now my favorite work of art, Marcel Duchamp's masterpiece "La mariee mise a nu par ses celibataires, meme" (The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even; 1915-23), also known as "The Large Glass", which is absolutely breathtaking to see in person. Also on permanent display there is his other major work, "Etant donnes: 1. la chute d'eau / 2 le gaz d'eclairage" (Given: 1 The Waterfall / 2 The Illuminating Gas; 1946-66), also awesome.
Duchamp worked on "Etant Donnes" in secret for 20 years, and not until very recently was it allowed to be photographed. What is completely unknown, however, is that if you open the front doors of "Etant Donnes" and walk into the scenery past the waterfall, you will come to a hidden room, number 183.5, unmarked on the Museum plan, which contains a work so secret Duchamp hasn't allowed anyone to even write about it. Duchamp made many prototypes for parts of "The Large Glass", but this is the only prototype of the entire work.
Titled "La biscuit mise a nu par ses pepites de chocolat, meme" (The Cookie Stripped Bare by Her Chocolate Chips, Even), and also known as "The Fillup Glass", it was started in 1912 and left "definitively unfinished" in 1915. Unlike Duchamp's other works in glass (including "To be looked at (from the other side of the glass) with one eye, close to, for almost an hour") this one wasn't cracked in transit, so Duchamp cracked it himself in 1927, following nearly identically the patterns in "The Bride Stripped Bare".
He also published a series of 94 lithographed notes ("The Aquamarine Box"), reproduced typographically in a book by David Hamilton, which was published in 1960 and immediately went out of print. Nonetheless Duchamp's notes and diagrams for the piece give us our best chance for understanding this complex work.
The cookie stripped bare by her chocolate chips even. to separate the MASS-PRODUCED READYMADE from the HOMEMADE--The separation is an operation.reads one of the most illuminating notes. However, some of the other passages are somewhat suspect. For example a note in Hamilton's book that the work ideally must be viewed through "soft filters" does not seem to appear in Duchamp's original collection, thankfully preserved at the Museum.
Hamilton does include an invaluable typographical chart of the work which clearly explains its elements and their interrelations. I have reproduced it in simplified form below.
********************** MILK SPILL COOKIE with three paper towels MACADAMIA NUTS MOTOR WITH QUITE FEEBLE CYLINDERS (unfinished) RESERVOIR (of love molasses) (cookie machine) -------------------------------------------------------------------------- (chocolate chip machine) CEMETERY OF WRITERS AND FUNNELS (unfinished) CHOCOLATE CHIPS Racine CHOCOLATE MACHINE Flaubert CHOCOLATE GRINDER STOVE RINGS Verne Proust Camus Celine Rolling pins Beckett Louis XIV chassis Robbe-Grillet Redonnet **********************
As can be seen, there are both similarities and differences with "The Large Glass". The bride has been replaced by a huge mechanized cookie, filled with Macadamia nuts and love molasses to help the chocolate chips with their stripping. The shapes of the paper towels in the milk spill are from photographs by Manneret of paper towels being dropped into the wastepaperbasket.
In the Chocolate Chip area, the 9 Malic Moulds have been replaced by the 9 Great French Writers. The chocolate grinder is nearly identical to the one in "The Large Glass", save that the chassis was upgraded to Louis XV in the latter. Notice that the funnels have been tinted to varying degrees by sprinkling them with brownie crumbs which were then baked in at high temperature over a period of six months.
An explanation of this work would require many volumes. Nevertheless Duchamp's own notes provide a good starting point and we will leave the last word to him:
The motor with quite feeble cylinders is a superficial flavor of the cookie; it is activated by the love molasses, a secretion of the bride's Macademia nuts and by the electric sparkles sprinkled on by the stripping. (to show that the cookie does not refuse this stripping by the chocolate chips, even accepts it since she furnishes the love molasses so far as to help towards complete baking by developing in a sparkling fashion her intense desire to be eaten.
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