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This is my favourite photograph of Marcel Duchamp. It sometimes goes under the title of 'Marchel Duchamp's Departure for America'. An artist like Duchamp is unique in everything, and sometimes that comes down to the pure ephemera such as this photograph represents.
Let us look at it in detail.
Also pictured in the photograph are Victor Brauner, Jacques Herold and Henriette Gomes, and it was taken at the gates of Marseilles harbour. The photograph was taken by Andre Gomes in 1942.
Henriette and Andre Gomes were among other things, the sort of people that made movements like surrealism possible. They were close friends of many artits, including Duchamp and Miró and owned many works by these and others.
Miró gave André and Henriette Gomès some of his artwork on the occasion of their marriage in 1938, and they also purchased some canvases from him.
The Gomeses fled Paris during the Nazi occupation and Henriette's gallery was seized as Jewish property. She and her husband were active in the French Resistance and she reopened the Galerie Henriette at 6 rue du Cirque, Paris, in 1949-50.
Victor Brauner was a Romanian Jewish painter of surrealistic images. He began by painting landscapes in the manner of Paul Cézanne and then, as he testified himself, he went through all the stages: "Dadaist, Abstractionist, Expressionist".
On September 26, 1924, the Mozart Galleries in Bucharest hosted Brauner's first personal exhibition and it was around then that he met poet Ilarie Voronca, together with whom he founded the 75HP magazine. (Find out more!)
On August 28 1938, Brauner lost his left eye in a violent argument between Oscar Domínguez and Esteban Frances. Brauner attempted to protect Esteban and was hit by a glass thrown by Domínguez. That same year, he met Jaqueline Abraham, who was to become his wife.
He left Paris during Nazi Germany's invasion of France in 1940, together with Pierre Malbille. He lived for a while in Perpignan, at Robert Rius', then at Cant-Blage, in the Eastern Pyrenees and at Saint Feliu d'Amont, where he was forcibly secluded.
However, he kept in touch with the Surrealists that had taken refuge in Marseille and this photgraph was taken after he was granted permission to settle there. Brauner was seriously ill when this picture was taken, I think and hospitalized at the 'Paradis' clinic - a name that they must have joked about.
Brauner here pictured painted "Prelude to a civilization" in 1954, now in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art; and in 1966 he was chosen to represent France at the biannual exhibition in Venice, where an entire hall was dedicated to him.
The epitaph on his tomb from the Montmartre cemetery is a phrase from his notebooks: "Peindre, c'est la vie, la vraie vie, ma vie" ("Painting is life, the real life, my life").
The last one in ther photograph is Jacques Herold, another Romanian, and a surreal painter, graphic artist and sculptor. He arrived in Paris in 1930 where he worked as an assistant to Brancusi and worked also with Yves Tanguy.
And by the way, if you haven't located Marcel Duchamp yet in this historic ensemble photograph, that's him waving from the prow of the ship. Bye Bye Marcel - Bye Bye!