Following Marcel Duchamp's death in 1968, the Philadelphia Museum of Art unveiled an installation on which he had been working secretly for twenty years. Étant donnés - known in English as Given, or, literally, 'being given' - consists of a small room with a locked wooden door; through a peephole in this door one can see a landscape within which a naked female figure reclines, her arm outstretched, holding a lamp.
In this book, Julian Jason Haladyn argues that Duchamp's intention in his final artwork was not, as many have maintained, to provide a neat summation of his career, but the opposite: to question and even undermine definitive readings of his own previous work. Duchamp's engagement with his legacy is a significant historical development in the critical relationship between artists and the institution of art, a relationship that would later be further explored by, among others, Michael Asher, Marcel Broodthaers and Andrea Fraser.
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