Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)
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Artist's Resale Right ("droit de Suite"). If the … Read more
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)


Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)
signed, numbered and inscribed '35/35 Marcel Duchamp L.H.O.O.Q.' (along the lower edge)
gouache and pencil on a color reproduction of the Mona Lisa
11 ¾ x 8 in. (29.8 x 20.3 cm.)
Executed in Neuilly-sur-Seine in September 1964 in an edition of 35 numbered examples plus 3 unnumbered examples for the artist, Pierre de Massot and Arturo Schwarz
Arturo Schwarz, Milan.
Sandroni Rey, Los Angeles.
Private Collection, Los Angeles.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
P. de Massot, Marcel Duchamp—Propos et Souvenirs, Milan, 1965.
A. Schwarz, The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp, New York, 1970, pp. 476-477, no. 261e.
F.M. Naumann, Marcel Duchamp, The Art of Making Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, New York, 1999, pp. 248-249, no. 8.75 (another example illustrated in color).
A. Schwarz, The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp, New York, 2000, vol. II, pp. 670-671, no. 369f.
F.M. Naumann, The Recurrent, Haunting Ghost: Essays on the Art, Life and Legacy of Marcel Duchamp, New York, 2012, pp. 82-90, (another example illustrated in color, p. 89, fig. 8.11).
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("droit de Suite"). If the Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer also agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5,5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Further details
This work has been authenticated by Mme Jacqueline Matisse Monnier and the Association Marcel Duchamp and is accompanied by a certificate from the Association.
Sale room notice
Veuillez noter que le lot 12, a été financé en tout ou partie avec l’aide d’un tiers qui enchérit sur ce lot et pourrait recevoir une rémunération de Christie’s.

Please note that Lot 12, has been financed by a third party who is bidding on this lot and may receive a financing fee from Christies.

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Etienne Sallon
Etienne Sallon

Lot Essay

Marcel Duchamp’s L.H.O.O.Q holds an important place within the history of twentieth century art, its simple, graffiti-like markings acting as a bold proclamation of DADA’s irreverence towards tradition. Originally executed in 1919 using a cheap postcard reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci's famed Mona Lisa, Duchamp drew a moustache and goatee on the sitter’s face, presenting the new image as an independent artwork in its own right. The shocking and subversive impact of this humorously altered readymade was accentuated through the phonetic pun nestled within its title, which the artist wrote on the edge of the card. When read aloud in French, L.H.O.O.Q. mimics the phrase “Elle a chaud au cul,” which translates as “She has a hot ass,” or as Duchamp himself stated, “There is a fire down below” (M. Duchamp, ‘Interview with Hubert Crehan for WBAJ-FM Radio, New York’, published in Evidence, no. 3, Toronto, Fall 1961, pp. 36-38). One of the most recognizable and influential works within his oeuvre, Duchamp returned to the Mona Lisa as the subject for seven distinct iterations of L.H.O.O.Q. throughout his life.
“The Gioconda was so universally known and admired”, Duchamp later explained about his choice of subject, “it was very tempting to use it for scandal…” (M. Duchamp, quoted in C. Tompkins, The Bride and the Bachelors: Five Masters of the Avant-Garde, New York, 1968, p. 45). Indeed, though the painting had been hanging in the Louvre since 1804, its renown within the public consciousness had reached new heights following its audacious theft from the museum in August 1911. The event quickly made headline news around the world, and though both Guillaume Apollinaire and Pablo Picasso were considered suspects in its disappearance, the police remained baffled by the crime. The case was reported widely in the French media over the following months, with every rumored sighting and new conspiracy theory picked over by commentators. By the time of its recovery over two years later, the Mona Lisa was among the most instantly recognizable icons in French culture – in the days immediately following its return to the Louvre, over a hundred thousand people are said to have visited the painting, welcoming her back to the city.
Events marking the four hundredth anniversary of Da Vinci's death created a lively discourse around his life and work in Parisian art circles over the course of 1919. Well aware of this context, Duchamp used L.H.O.O.Q. to puncture the cult of reverence surrounding the artist, taking aim at the Renaissance master’s most recognizable artwork. In so doing, Duchamp took his place in a long lineage of artistic commentary on the celebrated painting. One of the earliest known appropriations appeared in 1887 when an illustrator known as Sapeck (Eugène Battaille) depicted the famous lady smoking a pipe. In 1914, Kasimir Malevich produced a scathing commentary on the cult status that the painting had achieved, including a reproduction of the work in his collage Composition with Mona Lisa which he then defaced by placing a large red X over her visage. Further appropriations would follow Duchamp’s own version, perhaps the most famous of which was the series of silkscreens produced by Andy Warhol (Mona Lisa, 1963, and later variations) inspired by the painting’s visit to the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. in 1963.
Duchamp’s graffiti-like markings also tapped into the artist’s ongoing play with notions of gender identity and the fluidity of appearances. As he remarked: “The curious thing about that moustache and goatee is that when you look at the Mona Lisa it becomes a man. It is not a woman disguised as a man; it is a real man, and that was my discovery, without realizing it at the time” (M. Duchamp, quoted in C. Tomkins, Duchamp, A Biography, New York, 1996, p. 222). The mustached Joconde can be interpreted as being a direct parallel to the artist’s own female alter ego, Rrose Sélavy (pronounced “Eros, c’est la vie”), immortalized in a photograph by Man Ray in which the simple addition of a hat and makeup allows Duchamp to transform into a woman, glancing up coquettishly at the viewer through the camera lens.
Although officially “retired” and fully devoted to chess by the 1960s, Duchamp had on several occasions granted permission to reproduce works from his early career in new contexts. In 1964, the artist’s close friend and scholar, Arturo Schwarz, arranged the publication of a brief, yet poetic, essay on Duchamp by the French writer Pierre de Massot entitled Marcel Duchamp, propos et souvenirs. With the aim of producing a limited edition of thirty-five copies, Schwarz requested that Duchamp provide an artwork to accompany the text. The artist chose L.H.O.O.Q. for the project, purchasing 38 color reproductions of the painting (allowing for three examples outside the edition: one for Schwarz, one for Massot and one for himself), which he then altered by adding the customary facial hair as well as a thinly applied white gouache to conceal the name of the author of the original artwork and the institution where it resides. With this simple act, Duchamp negates the identity of the original painting and declares L.H.O.O.Q. as an independent artwork in its own right.

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