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Modern and Contemporary Art
Artist: Suzanne Duchamp, French, 1889–1963

Chef d’oeuvre accordéon

1921

Oil, gouache, and silver leaf on canvas

99.8 × 80.9 cm (39 5/16 × 31 7/8 in.)
Gift of the artist to the Collection Société Anonyme
1949.173
Suzanne Duchamp was introduced to avant-garde art by her elder brother Marcel Duchamp and at exhibitions in Paris and in her native Normandy. Chef d’oeuvre accordéon is an abstract work with a deliberately intriguing title. The bands of colors suggest movement and may allude to musical notes, in reference to the accordion, while the wrinkled surface of silver leaf may refer to the French en accordéon (the quality of being folded). In this regard, the painting is similar to Marcel’s works that played on words. It is also reminiscent of the chocolate grinder, an object Marcel depicted frequently and included in his famous work La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même (Le Grand Verre) (The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even [The Large Glass]. Les accordés is a colloquial term for bride and groom; thus, Chef d’oeuvre accordéon may be Suzanne’s sly play on her brother’s fascination with this subject.
Status: 
On view
Culture: 
French
Period: 
20th century
Classification: 
Paintings
Provenance: 

Suzanne Duchamp; Collection Société Anonyme, to 1949; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.

Bibliography: 

Collection of the Société Anonyme: Museum of Modern Art 1920 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1950), 131, 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), 246, no. 243, 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), 173, 192, ill.

Ruth Hemus, Dada’s Women (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2009), 154, fig. 64.

Rachel Palacios, “Involving Us Again for the First Time,” Art New England 33, no. 5 (September/October 2012): 38, 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.