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CULTURE
The Duchamp Dictionary
An authoritative, alphabetically arranged exploration of the artist's life and work
by David Graver
on 04 April 2014
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The controversy and academic analysis surrounding the work of French-American painter Marcel Duchamp remains a focal point in art history circles. With Thomas Girst's new alphabetically arranged exploration of the artist—"The Duchamp Dictionary"—it has never been easier to gain insight into the man's life and work. Coinciding with multiple global exhibitions celebrating the 100th anniversary of Duchamp's "the readymade" (ordinary objects that he would select, reposition or modify), this new book from Thames & Hudson puts puzzle pieces together and shares insights on a visionary who changed the way we perceive art. Regardless of your stance on his work, Duchamp's impact and influence is undeniable, and "The Duchamp Dictionary" seeks to enlighten and entertain readers amid revelations on the depth of the man and his conceptual creations.

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Girst (the Head of Cultural Engagement at the BMW Group) has written extensively about Duchamp—and contemporary and modern art. He's even curated a Duchamp retrospective in Munich. He weaves Duchamp quotes into the 200 "dictionary" entries; all of which are preceded by an introduction that lays the groundwork for what's to follow—and why he selected the entry words as launching points. "Indifference" follows "iconoclasm," while "box-in-avalise" comes right before "breasts." Other entries include "collecting," "Warhol" and "smoking." Each entry word engages as much as the definitions that follow. The 224-page book also features 65 illustrations in two-color form, by artists Luke Frost and Therese Vandling who are part of the experimental illustration and screen-printing unit Heretic. The illustrations, explanations and concepts all muddle together to create a remarkable reference tool fit for the unconventional thinker.

The Duchamp Dictionary is available for pre-order online, for $23 with delivery expected around 13 May.

Photos by David Graver

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