To Be Looked At (from the Other Side of the Glass) with One Eye, Close to, for Almost an Hour

Thus spoke Marcel, and we obliged (for five minutes).

Looking for ”almost an hour” would have a hallucinatory effect similar to Marc Chagall’s experience, some years earlier.

Marcel Duchamp
To Be Looked At (from the Other Side of the Glass) with One Eye, Close to, for Almost an Hour, 1918
Oil, silver leaf, lead wire, magnifying lens on glass (cracked) mounted between panes of glass in a standing metal frame, on painted wood base

”The title of this work, which Duchamp said he ”intended to sound like an oculist’s prescription” tells the viewer exactly how to look at it. But peering through the convex lens embedded in the work’s glass ”for almost an hour” would have a hallucinatory effect, the view being dwarfed, flipped and otherwise distorted. Meanwhile the viewer patiently following the title’s instructions is him-or herself put on display for anyone else walking by. 

Duchamp called this his ”small glass”, to distinguish it from his famous Large Glass of 1915-23. He made the work in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he had fled earlier in 1918 to escape the oppressive atmosphere of the United States during World War I. When he shipped it back to New York, the glass cracked in transit, en effect that delighted him.”

Marc Chagall
I and the Village, 1911
Oil on canvas

@MoMA

August 8th, 2018

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