Modern and Contemporary Art
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Artist: Suzanne Duchamp, French, 1889–1963

Chef d’oeuvre accordéon


Oil, gouache, and silver leaf on canvas

99.8 × 80.9 cm (39 5/16 × 31 7/8 in.)
framed: 104.1 × 85.4 × 5.1 cm (41 × 33 5/8 × 2 in.)
Gift of the artist to Collection Société Anonyme
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.
On view
20th century

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


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

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.

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.

Collection of the Société Anonyme: Museum of Modern Art 1920 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1950), 131, ill.

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

Talia Kwartler, “Suzanne Duchamp, Katherine S. Dreier, and “Semi-Abstract” Painting,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2020–2021): 76–85, fig. 1.

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.