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Modern and Contemporary Art
Artist: Marcel Duchamp, American, born France, 1887–1968
Oil on canvas, with bottlebrush, safety pins, and bolt
69.8 x 303 cm (27 1/2 x 119 5/16 in.)
Gift of the Estate of Katherine S. Dreier
Tu m’ was commissioned by artist, collector, and educator Katherine Dreier to be hung over a bookcase in her library, hence the unusual length and frieze-like shape of the work. Executed in 1918, it is Marcel Duchamp’s last painting on canvas and sums up his previous artistic concerns. Ranging across the canvas from left to right are cast shadows that refer to three “ready-mades”: a bicycle wheel, a corkscrew, and a hat rack. Several objects are rendered illusionistically, such as a painted hand with a pointed finger in the lower center. Providing counterpoints to these trompe l’oeil elements are real objects: a bottle brush, a bolt, and safety pins. Duchamp summarizes different ways in which a work of art can suggest reality: as shadow, imitation, or actual object. The title lends a sarcastic tone to the work, for the words, perhaps short for the French “tu m’emmerdes” (you annoy me) or “tu m’ennuies” (you bore me), seem to express his attitude toward painting as he was casting it aside.
George Heard Hamilton, “Anonyme No Longer,” Artnews 51, no. 9 (January 1953): 60, ill.
William C. Seitz, The Art of Assemblage, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1961), 45, ill.
Richard Hamilton, The Almost Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp, exh. cat. (London: The Arts Council of Great Britain, 1966), 8889, ill.
William Rubin, Dada, Surrealism, and Their Heritage, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1968), 20, ill.
Jack Burnham, “Unveiling the Consort, Part II,” Artforum 9, no. 8 (April 1971): 50-51, ill.
Alan Shestack, ed., Yale University Art Gallery Selections (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1983), 7879, ill.
Robert L. Herbert, Eleanor S. Apter, and Elise K. Kenney, The Société Anonyme and the Dreier Bequest at Yale University: A Catalogue Raisonné (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1984), 230, no. 233, ill.
Francis M. Naumann and F. F. Sherman, “The Bachelor’s Quest,” Art in America (September 1993): 76-77, ill.
Francis M. Naumann, Making Mischief: Dada Invades New York, exh. cat. (New York: Prentice Hall, 1996), 1067, 292, ill.
Susan B. Matheson, Art for Yale: A History of the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2001), 12627, fig. 123.
Isabel Wallace, “From Painting’s Death to the Death of Painting,” Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 7, no. 1 (April 2002): 13355, ill.
Drawing from the Modern, 2, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2004), ill.
Russell Ferguson, The Undiscovered Country, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Hammer Museum, 2004), 58, ill.
Leah Dickerman et al., Dada: Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, Paris, exh. cat. (Washington D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 2005).
Dada, exh. cat. (Paris: Editions du Centre Pompidou, 2005), 37677, ill.
Dorothy Kosinski, Dialogues: Cornell, Duchamp, Johns, Rauschenberg, exh. cat. (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art, 2005), 72, ill.
Jasper Johns Catenary, exh. cat. (New York: Matthew Marks Gallery, 2005), 13, ill.
James Elkins, Master Narratives and Their Discontents (New York: Routledge, 2005), ill.
Thomas Crow, Robert Rauschenberg: Combines, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 2005), 203.
The Shadow, exh. cat. (Soro, Denmark: Vestsjaellands Kunstmuseum, 2005), ill.
Imants Tillers: One World/Many Visions, exh. cat. (Canberra, Australia: National Gallery of Australia, 2006).
Ruth L. Bohan et al., The Société Anonyme: Modernism for America, ed. Jennifer Gross, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2006), 19, fig. 3.
Briony Fer, “Eva Hesse and Color,” October 119 (Winter 2007): 29, ill.
Jennifer Gross, Kristin Baker: Surge and Shadow, exh. cat. (New York: Deitch Projects, 2007), 13, fig. 18.
Lars Blunck, Duchmaps Präzisionsoptik (Munich: Silke Schreiber, 2008), 153.
Marsden Hartley and New Mexico: The Search for American Modernism, exh. cat. (Santa Fe: Yale University Press, 2008).
Francine Savard, exh. cat. (Montreal: Musee d’art contemporain de Montreal, 2009), 67, ill.
Michael R. Taylor, Marcel Duchamp: Étant donnés, exh. cat. (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2009), 133, fig. 3.4.
Richard Meyer, “ ‘Big, Middle-Class Modernism’,” October 131 (Winter 2010): 8695, ill.
Janine A. Mileaf, Please Touch: Dada and Surrealist Objects after the Readymade (Hanover, N.H.: Dartmouth College, 2010), 24, 3031, 5051, pl. 5.
Rachel Palacios, “Involving Us Again for the First Time,” Art New England 33, no. 5 (September/October 2012): 3435, ill.
Cécile Debray, ed., Marcel Duchamp: la peinture, même, exh. cat. (Paris: Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, 2014), 26869, 27273, ill.
Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.