In Advance of the Broken Arm Artist: Marcel Duchamp (American, born France, 1887–1968)

1945 (replica of the lost original of 1915)

Modern and Contemporary Art

On view, 3rd floor, Modern and Contemporary Art and Design

In 1915 Marcel Duchamp purchased a snow shovel in New York City and signed it, declaring it a work of art. Through this revolutionary gesture, he produced his first "Readymade," an object that was recognized as art through the artist's intention, selection, and presentation rather than through the object's construction. The humorous and subversive title introduces a new context for the work, altering the viewer's relationship with what was previously a mundane and commercial object.


Wood and galvanized iron snow shovel


48 × 18 × 4 in. (121.9 × 45.7 × 10.2 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Katherine S. Dreier to the Collection Société Anonyme

Accession Number



20th century


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 records is ongoing.



Societe Anonyme
  • James Holl, The Landscape Painter: An autobiography 1974 through 1994 (New York: Charta, 2009), 112, Plate 104, ill
  • James Holl, The Landscape Painter: An Autobiography 1974 Through 1994 (New York: Charta, 2009), 112, pl. 104, ill
  • Ruth L. Bohan et al., The Société Anonyme: Modernism for America, ed. Jennifer Gross, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2006), 172, 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), 244, no. 241
  • Collection of the Société Anonyme: Museum of Modern Art 1920 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1950), 150
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

shovels, utilitarian objects




Signed, dated, and inscribed in paint along lower rear of shovel "IN ADVANCE OF THE BROKEN ARM MARCEL DUCHAMP [1915] / replica 1945"

Technical metadata and APIs


Open in Mirador

View IIIF manifest

The International Image Interoperability Framework, or IIIF, is an open standard for delivering high-quality, attributed digital objects online at scale. Visit to learn more

Linked Art

API response for this object

Linked Art is a Community working together to create a shared Model based on Linked Open Data to describe Art.