On The Existence Of Duchamp

I finally picked up a copy of the exhibition catalogue for the 1973-4 Duchamp retrospective organized by the Philadelphia Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. Here is the end of Hilton Kramer’s non-review of the show for the New York Times:

Miss d’Harnoncourt and Mr. McShine have, I must say, done a brilliant job in assembling the visual evidence and in marshaling an elaborate elucidation of its alleged meanings (in a massive volume of essays not yet published). To understand the history of modern art in any comprehensive way, one must see this exhibition, and to grasp the nature of the ideology that has dominated an important part of that history one must read the essays brought together in this forthcoming volume. But one must be prepared to examine a cadaver, and to read through a literature that assumes with absolute confidence that the subject is immortal. One must be prepared, on other words, for the greatest Duchampian joke of all.

I’m starting to think, I must say, that Hilton Kramer did not much care for Marcel Duchamp.