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Major Publishing Awards for Étant donnés Catalogue

Posted at the blog of the Philadelphia Museum of Art: August 2, 2010, 2:45PM

Marcel Duchamp: Étant donnés, at the annual conference of the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) in Boston on April 23, 2010.
This past spring, the catalogue that accompanied the intriguing and acclaimed 2009 exhibition Marcel Duchamp: Étant donnés was honored with two prestigious art publishing prizes; the George Wittenborn Memorial Book Award and the Association of Art Museum Curators 2009 award for Outstanding Catalogue for a Permanent Collection. Both reflect the superb quality of the publication in terms of its vigorous scholarship, fresh presentation, layout, design, and production.

The catalogue, by curator Michael Taylor with members of the Museum’s Conservation staff, contains a wealth of unprecedented exploration; information not simply previously unpublished, but previously unknown. As AAMC Permanent Collection Jury Chair Andrew J. Walker says, it “demonstrates that understanding the genesis, construction, installation and legacy of Duchamp’s construction can only be accomplished through the breadth of the PMA’s extensive collection.” The book is also full of stunning illustrations; documents that draw upon up-until-now unpublished works of art, photographs, and other materials. The cover is an arrestingly simple image of the installation’s wooden door, just beckoning you to discover what’s inside.

These distinguished awards carry an even deeper significance in light of the legacy of Anne d’Harnoncourt, in whose memory both the exhibition and the catalogue were dedicated. In addition to being the Museum’s beloved Director and CEO, Anne was a renowned Duchamp scholar who, as a young Curatorial Assistant, had overseen the original installation of Étant donnés in 1969. Her subsequent research, writings, and exhibitions sealed her place as a “Duchampian” authority of the highest order. Though she did not live to see its publication, the new information so carefully researched and presented by Taylor and his colleagues in this catalogue beautifully builds upon the strong foundation that she established. Marcel Duchamp: Étant donnés both honors her legacy and paves the way for research to come.

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