Item #2712 Marcel Duchamp. MARCEL DUCHAMP, GEORGES HUGNET.
Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp

“With surrealism all poetic and pictorial manifestations are situated on the level of life and life on the level of dreams.”
-Georges Hugnet

“Like the smile of the Cheshire Cat, Duchamp's graffiti additions to the Mona Lisa now hover in space.”
-Anne D'harnoncourt and Kynaston McShine, Marcel Duchamp


Georges Hugnet, poet, graphic artist, publisher and historian of the surrealist movement, was inspired by Marcel Duchamp, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Man Ray and other members of the Parisian avant-garde. Hugnet’s first collection of poems and collages, published in 1936 and entitled La septième face du dé (The seventh face of the die), included a cover designed by Duchamp.

Hugnet so admired Duchamp and his work that he penned a poem called, Marcel Duchamp, which pays tribute to Duchamp’s contributions to modern art. In this poem Hugnet celebrates Duchamp’s innovative spirit, his unconventional ideas about the nature and purpose of art, and his use of found objects and readymades and references several of Duchamp’s most famous works, which were seen as radical and controversial in their time.

We have on offer Hugnet’s poem, Marcel Duchamp, published in 1941 and signed by both Hugnet and Duchamp. This copy is bound (as issued) with a pochoir frontispiece by Duchamp entitled Mustache and Beard of L.H.O.O.Q. or La Moustache sans la Joconde (The Mustache without the Mona Lisa). This pochoir evolved from Duchamp’s L.H.O.O.Q. (also known as La Joconde) in which he added a mustache and goatee to the Mona Lisa, transforming the enigmatic subject into a more humorous and lighthearted character. First conceived in 1919, L.H.O.O.Q. was one of Duchamp’s most famous readymades and a symbol for the international Dada movement. The stencil used for this pochoir was originally made to create a reproduction of L.H.O.O.Q. for Duchamp’s Boîte en Valise (The Box in Suitcase). Duchamp reused the stencil for this project, creating a unique mustache and beard signature. (Schwarz 483-484)

Clandestinely published by Hugnet in Paris during the German occupation of France, this very rare and historical work is beautifully bound by one of the most accomplished and esteemed French binders of the twentieth century, Georges Leroux. Hugnet, who joined the French resistance in 1940, distributed copies to his close friends in 1941 though many of the original 200 were destroyed or lost during the war. This copy is one of only six that were made on handmade Japon nacré.

Provenance: From the collection of Paul Destribats (1926-2017), legendary collector of books on the avant-garde.

Paris: np, 1941. ORIGINAL EDITION. 96 x 140 mm. One of six copies on handmade sur Japon nacré. (No. 6/6 in pencil on limitation page.) Out of a total edition of 200. ILLUSTRATION: an original stencil in black by Marcel Duchamp, "La Mustache sans la Joconde" LINED BINDING SIGNED BY GEORGES LEROUX, dated 1995. Veined black morocco, first hollow cover open on a silver medallion stretched with black lace glued to the endpaper, long spine, lining of the same morocco and metallic suede endpapers, cover preserved. A little offsetting from pochoir on facing page, a few stray spots, but generally fine condition.

Full text of Hugnet’s Marcel Duchamp poem:

La mémoire du miroir se venge
Qui fut inventée par l’homme.
Qui est cet homme?
Celui qui supprime avec des barres de glace.
Qui est cet homme?
Celui qui broie la suie
avec le moulin à cristal de la neige.

Qui est cet homme?
Il couronne l’or avec le vent de la vie.
Il détient la commune mesure et le défi
entre ce qui est vu
et ce qui est touché
entre ce qui voit et ce qui touche.
Il organise le goût du visible
et l’odeur du tact.

Et l’étoile du rire défait à jamais les reflets.
Silence sur le silence
le soleil est ailleurs.
La machine à images
n’est qu’un jeu de société.
Rien ne commence.
Le givre assis au coin du feu
fixe la parole totale
comme l’éclair arrêté au fronton de la nuit
foudroie toute ressemblance.


“Biographical Sketch.” Georges Hugnet: An Inventory of His Papers in the Carlton Lake Collection at the Harry Ransom Center. University of Texas at Austin.

Anne D'harnoncourt and Kynaston McShine. Marcel Duchamp. Museum of Modern Art/ Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1973.

Georges Hugnet. Fantastic Art, Dada Surrealism. Museum of Modern Art, 1936. Fantastic Art, Dada Surrealism. Museum of Modern Art, 1936.

Petra Kayser. Georges Hugnet: The seventh face of the die. National Gallery of Victoria, July 2016.

Arturo Schwarz. The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1970.

Price: $16,500 .

See all items in Art & Photography
See all items by ,