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Modern and Contemporary Art
Artist: Marcel Duchamp, American, born France, 1887–1968

Tu m’

1918

Oil on canvas, with bottlebrush, safety pins, and bolt

69.8 × 303 cm (27 1/2 × 119 5/16 in.)
framed: 73 × 315.6 × 5.7 cm (28 3/4 × 124 1/4 × 2 1/4 in.)
Gift of the Estate of Katherine S. Dreier
1953.6.4
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.
Status: 
On view
Culture: 
American, French
Period: 
20th century
Classification: 
Paintings
Provenance: 

Bequest of Katherine Dreier

Bibliography: 

Thomas Crow, Robert Rauschenberg: Combines, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 2005), 203.

Jasper Johns Catenary, exh. cat. (New York: Matthew Marks Gallery, 2005), 13, 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), 19, fig. 3.

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.

Michael R. Taylor, Marcel Duchamp: Étant donnés, exh. cat. (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2009), 133, fig. 3.4.

Jennifer Gross, Kristin Baker: Surge and Shadow, exh. cat. (New York: Deitch Projects, 2007), 13, fig. 18.

Imants Tillers: One World/Many Visions, exh. cat. (Canberra, Australia: National Gallery of Australia, 2006).

Jane Hammond, Jane Hammond: Paper Work, exh. cat. (South Hadley, Mass.: Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, 2006).

Dorothy Kosinski, Dialogues: Cornell, Duchamp, Johns, Rauschenberg, exh. cat. (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art, 2005), 72, ill.

Leah Dickerman et al., Dada: Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, Paris, exh. cat. (Washington D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 2005).

Russell Ferguson, The Undiscovered Country, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Hammer Museum, 2004), 58, ill.

George Heard Hamilton, “Anonyme No Longer,” Artnews 51, no. 9 (January 1953): 60, ill.

Jack Burnham, “Unveiling the Consort, Part II,” Artforum 9, no. 8 (April 1971): 50-51, ill.

James Elkins, Master Narratives and Their Discontents (New York: Routledge, 2005), ill.

Drawing from the Modern, 2, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2004), ill.

The Shadow, exh. cat. (Soro, Denmark: Vestsjaellands Kunstmuseum, 2005), ill.

Briony Fer, “Eva Hesse and Color,” October 119 (Winter 2007): 29, ill.

Marsden Hartley and New Mexico: The Search for American Modernism, exh. cat. (Santa Fe: Yale University Press, 2008).

Francis M. Naumann and F. F. Sherman, “The Bachelor’s Quest,” Art in America (September 1993): 76-77, ill.

Dada, exh. cat. (Paris: Editions du Centre Pompidou, 2005), 376–77, ill.

Janine A. Mileaf and Francis M. Naumann, Inventing Marcel Duchamp: The Dynamics of Portraiture, eds. Anne Collins Goodyear and James W. McManus, exh. cat. (Washington, D.C.: National Portrait Gallery, 2009).

Francine Savard, exh. cat. (Montreal: Musee d’art contemporain de Montreal, 2009), 67, ill.

Richard Meyer, “ ‘Big, Middle-Class Modernism’,” October 131 (Winter 2010): 86–95, ill.

Janine A. Mileaf, Please Touch: Dada and Surrealist Objects after the Readymade (Hanover, N.H.: Dartmouth College, 2010), 24, 30–31, 50–51, pl. 5.

Susan B. Matheson, Art for Yale: A History of the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2001), 126–27, fig. 123.

Lars Blunck, Duchmaps Präzisionsoptik (Munich: Silke Schreiber, 2008), 153.

Rachel Palacios, “Involving Us Again for the First Time,” Art New England 33, no. 5 (September/October 2012): 34–35, ill.

William Rubin, Dada, Surrealism, and Their Heritage, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1968), 20, ill.

Francis M. Naumann, Making Mischief: Dada Invades New York, exh. cat. (New York: Prentice Hall, 1996), 106–7, 292, 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), 88–89, ill.

Inaugural Exhibition, exh. cat. (Houston: Fort Worth Art Center, 1954).

Isabel Wallace, “From Painting’s Death to the Death of Painting,” Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 7, no. 1 (April 2002): 133–55, ill.

Cécile Debray, ed., Marcel Duchamp: la peinture, même, exh. cat. (Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 2014), 268–69, 272–73, ill.

Alan Shestack, ed., Yale University Art Gallery Selections (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1983).

Cynthia Schwarz, “The Société Anonyme Collection and the Finer Forces of the Conservation of Modern Paintings,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2020–2021): 104–13, fig. 2.

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.