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Schwarz, A. (1968). Duchamp's Young Man and Girl in Spring. Am. Imago, 25(4):297-308.

(1968). American Imago, 25(4):297-308

Duchamp's Young Man and Girl in Spring

Arturo Schwarz

Young Man and Girl in Spring was painted early in 1911, and it is the first of Duchamp's works to show a clean break with all his former experiments in Impressionism, Fauvism, and Cézannism. It is also the first work free of the influence of others—those painters towards whom he had shot a fleeting glance: Toulouse-Lautrec, Forain, Gauguin, Redon, Matisse, and Villon, his own brother. Finally, it is here that we first meet the basic theme of the Large Glass. One is led to presume that 1911 must be the date of some important event that triggered in him a blossoming of his own personality and a sharp acceleration of his individuation process.

Duchamp must have sensed the importance that this painting's deeper motivations had in furthering the process of individuation since, a few months later, he attempted to make a larger version of the same theme. But the initial emotional shock responsible for Young Man and Girl in Spring had probably worn off, or could no longer be recaptured, and Duchamp, not satisfied with this second version, discarded it unfinished. Three years later he went back to this canvas and painted over it the Network of Stoppages (1914).

This discussion of the details of Young Man and Girl in Spring will lead to the realization that the complexity of the theme of this painting is second only to that of the Large Glass; but this is not surprising since the painting is an anticipation of the Glass.


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