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Why Not Sneeze Rose Sélavy?Enlarge image

Why Not Sneeze Rose Sélavy?, 1921, 3rd version 1964

Marcel Duchamp
French, 1887 - 1968
152 marble sugar cubes, thermometer, and cuttle bone in painted metal birdcage fitted with 4 wooden bars
12 x 22 x 16 cm
Purchased 1971
National Gallery of Canada (no. 29944)
© Estate of Marcel Duchamp / SODRAC (2013)

In 1913 Duchamp invented the "readymade," a term used to describe art made of mass-produced objects signed or inscribed by the artist. Duchamp described a readymade as a "work of art without an artist to make it." Since the sugar cubes had to be cut from marble pieces and the thermometer added, Duchamp considered this work to be a "readymade very much aided," delegating to craftsmen the fabrication according to his specifications. Duchamp wrote, "This little birdcage is filled with sugar lumps...but the sugar lumps are made of marble and when you lift it you are surprised by the unexpected weight."

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