Impossible Realities: Marcel Duchamp and the Surrealist Tradition

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) was one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. He was the Daddy of Dada and the Grandpa of Pop. In between, he was one of the most respected members of the Surrealist circle. Wishing never to repeat himself, he also started directions that came to be known as Op Art, Kinetic Art, and Conceptual Art. To thousands of artists, Duchamp is the man who "set them free" to be whatever they wanted to be, and do whatever they wanted to do. Above all, Duchamp re-invigorated the fine arts as a way of thinking, and not just a way of looking. In short, he was an artist-philosopher.

This exhibition presents not only the work of Duchamp but also the work of many of the leading artists of the "Age of Surrealism" between World War I and World War II. Included are works by Europeans such as Arp, Dali, Ernst, Giacometti, Magritte, Masson, Miró, and Moore, as well as works by American artists Calder, Cornell, Noguchi, Miller, Man Ray, and Sommer. The exhibition concludes with works done during the postwar era under the influence of Duchamp by Neo-Dada and Pop artists such as Rauschenberg and Warhol.

It was at the Pasadena Art Museum (now the Norton Simon Museum) that Duchamp was given his first retrospective in 1963. Most of the works by Duchamp on view in the exhibition were for that retrospective in 1963. The Museum's Duchamp collection is the largest in California.