Exhibitions / Texts

International Colloquium



Idea and Project:
Adriana Rosenberg y Jorge Helft
Curator: Elena Filipovic
Production: Fundación Proa
General Coordinator:
Cintia Mezza
Assistant and producer:
Iara Freiberg
Exhibition Design:
Caruso - Torricela, Architteti
Catalogue Coordinator:
Debbie Grimberg
Sponsor: Tenaris - O. Techint


Marcel Duchamp Invasion
By Rafael Cippolini
Perfil - Buenos Aires 5/10/08

Exhibitions celebrate Marcel Duchamp
By Carolina Lara B.
El Mercurio – Chile 3/10/2008{a1494494-2089-4942-8663-22cb91b0c773}

At last, Duchamp returns to Argentina
By Judith Savloff
Crítica de la Argentina – Buenos Aires 9/6/2008

Although he lived in Buenos Aiers for several months, his work has never been shown in a local museum. This will be the first individual exhibition of the man who changed the concept of art in the 20th century.

“He is one of the major figures of the 20th century art. He lived a short while in Buenos Aires. But to see his work one has to travel abroad”. For this reason, among others, Jorge Helft, local collector born in France, founder and director of the San Telmo, Antorchas, and Colón Theater, thought of promoting an exhibition on Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) in Argentina. After eight years, that project is about to become a reality.

Twords the end of 2008 Fundación Proa, which has been working on this project since 2006, will reopen its doors in the porteño neighborhood of La Boca with what promises to be one of the major art accomplishments of the year: Marcel Duchamp: a work that is not a work “of art”.

This will be the first large individual exhibition of the French artist in Argentina, renown for his display of the urinal fountain (Fountain, 1917), father of Conceptualism and other tendencies that appear in contemporary art.

Although the inauguration date is yet to be defined, confirmed are the 125 pieces that will be included in the exhibition – between objects, works on paper, photographs, projections, and documents – coming from the Philadelphia Museum, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, among other institutions and private collections.

The exhibition, curated by Elena Filipovic, will begin with the mise-en-scene of the ready made (industrial object given a new meaning as “artistic”) that Duchamp began to make in 1913 and did so until his last works. Among other emblematic pieces, The large glass and The Portable Museum will be shown.

Duchamp’s ready made, edited in ’64, were shown amongst 200 works of top artists in Dreaming with eyes open, Dada and Surrealism in the Vera and Arturo Schwartz collection at the Malba museum in 2004. But as Helft says from the other end of the telephone line: “Proa’s exhibition will be entirely dedicated to Duchamp”.

Helft, who treasures books designed by Duchamp and other pieces he bought for “extremely cheap prices” -before the artist was auctioned off for 1.7 million dollars-, has been giving many lectures: the last one to date was last Wednesday at the Alliance Francaise.

“I was born in an art-related environment. However, among historians, museum directors, and specialists, at least until 1960, there were two 20th century geniuses that were talked about: Picasso and Matisse. By the end of the century, Duchamp has been incorporated to that last. I would like to discuss those reasons”, he explains.

First, says Helft, Duchamp modified the concept of art: “He opened the game of definition. He pointed out that the viewer was a key component of the work of art, the viewer completes the work of art. It is similar to a definition made by Borges regarding literature: the book is also made by the reader”.

Duchamp also indicated, adds Helft, that a work of art will last as long as the spectator’s acceptance of it, in its capacity to maintain interest throughout time. “It does not matter whether the spectator is specialized or not. Precisely in 1955 he said he as interested in the future: what would happen in fifty years. Today a little longer has passed and his continuity is impressive. No other artist has had such an influence on other artistic movements: pop, kinetics, and Fluxus, among others,” he points out.

Duchamp is also used to try and justify the idea that everything is art. “The thing is that Postmodernism made the big mistake of interpretation. Today we face people who carried out a photograph, installation, or painting, which we find much more interesting than somone’s little sister. There are many good artists, of course, but there are many unfundamented proposals, banal inversions. But if one goes back to Duchamp, there is a bullet-proof intellectual content”.

Duchamp lived in Buenos Aires between September 1918 and June 1919. This stay is still something of a mystery. Apparently he was here while avoiding World War I, Paris’ ‘patriotism’, and New York, where he established his career.

Between November and January, the Fondo Nacional de las Artes showed Duchamp in Buenos Aires , an homage to other artists and an unedited manuscript of Duchamp regarding a 1924 chess match, game that fascinated him.

A few months ago, Marcelo Gutman, artist and investigator that debuted as a curator in that exhibition, corrected Helft during a presentation. He told him that, for example, Duchmp’s work as a composer was not taken into consideration.

“There were linguistic misunderstandings -says Helft- I said it was almost forgotten, not completely. I know many experts that study these, and for this exhibition we are bringing Peter Kotik to interpret these pieces. But all observations are welcome”.

Why did this exhibition take years to consolidate? “This is still Buenos Aires -replies Helft- To carry it out is costly. Sometimes the problems can be reduced to budget, other times good-will, other times jealousy, etc. If I were to write a book of all the ideas I’ve had that weren’t carried out, I’d have one-thousand pages”.

Together with the exhibition in Proa, the first International Colloquium regarding Duchamp in Latin America will take place and afterwards the event will land in Sao Paulo.
Phone: [54-11] 4104 1000