Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)
In Advance of the Broken Arm, 1964
Wood and metal
51 3/4 × 14 × 5 1/4 inches
(131.4 × 35.6 × 13.3 cm)
© Association Marcel Duchamp / ADAGP, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 2019
This example is from a small replica edition of Marcel Duchamp’s first American “readymade,” In Advance of the Broken Arm, from November 1915. This 1964 example was made in an edition of eight by Galleria Schwarz, Milan.
In January 1916, Duchamp wrote a letter to his sister Suzanne in which he described the American “readymades”:
Here in N.Y., I have bought various objects in the same taste [as the Bicycle Wheel and Bottle Rack in his Paris studio] and I treat them as “readymades.” You know enough English to understand the meaning of “ready-made” that I give these objects. I sign them and I think of an inscription for them in English. I’ll give you a few examples. I have, for example, a large snow shovel on which I have inscribed at the bottom: In advance of the broken arm, French translation: En avance du bras cassé. Don’t tear your hair out trying to understand this in the Romantic or Impressionist or Cubist sense—it has nothing to do with all that.1
In reference to Duchamp and this work, Donald Judd wrote in 1981, “Until lately we had a guy who found a snow shovel and who talked for decades, producing talking artists.”2 Nearby on the fifth floor of 101 Spring Street, Judd also placed a commercial bottle rack that strongly resembles, but is not, a Duchamp readymade originally made in Paris in 1914.