Art as the Erotic - The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors

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Art as the Erotic
How We Observe Sex in Art
Curated by Chase Coble 

Marcel Duchamp, The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass), 1915-1923
Following Marcel Duchamp’s self-designated three month “exile” in Munich, which he would later call “the scene of [his] complete liberation,” he envisioned his seminal work, The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass). Assuming that much of his preceding works specifically, The Passage from Virgin to Bride and Nude Descending Staircase, concerned the “passage” of a woman through both space and sexual status, the Large Glass mechanized and detached it.

Duchamp made sex analogous to mechanical process.

Large Glass asked the viewer to understand “passage” as a liquid, or as Duchamp called it “love gasoline,” from the lower section to the upper, where the Bride was working as the “motor.” The lower section includes a number of suitors working as “sex cylinders” struggling to move their fuel to their target. The generator or “magneto” that was the Bride sparked the suitors’ fuel. Duchamp asks us to contemplate not the allure and hidden nature of sex, but the actual mechanics constituting the act. The medium of the work, glass, implies fluidity and liquidness.

What truly made Large Glass so revolutionary was the absence of discernable a subject. Whereas Manet subverted tradition by giving us an actual subject, not an ideal, Duchamp deconstructed the actual need for one. We witness the human form as a mechanical instrument that facilitates reproduction.

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