The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even

The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même), most often called The Large Glass (Le Grand Verre), is an artwork by Marcel Duchamp over 9 feet (2.7 m) tall, and freestanding. Duchamp worked on the piece from 1915 to 1923 in New York City, creating two panes of glass with materials such as lead foil, fuse wire, and dust. It combines chance procedures, plotted perspective studies, and laborious craftsmanship. Duchamp's ideas for the Glass began in 1913, and he made numerous notes and studies, as well as preliminary works for the piece. The notes reflect the creation of unique rules of physics, and myth which describes the work.

The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass)
French: La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même
(Le Grand Verre)
Duchamp LargeGlass.jpg
ArtistMarcel Duchamp
TypeOil, varnish, lead foil, lead wire, and dust on two glass panels
Dimensions277.5 cm × 175.9 cm (109.25 in × 69.25 in)
LocationPhiladelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia

The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even is also the title given to The Green Box notes (1934) as Duchamp intended the Large Glass to be accompanied by a book, in order to prevent purely visual responses to it.[1] The notes describe that his "hilarious picture" is intended to depict the erotic encounter between the "Bride", in the upper panel, and her nine "Bachelors" gathered timidly below in an abundance of mysterious mechanical apparatus in the lower panel.[2] The Large Glass was exhibited in 1926 at the Brooklyn Museum before it was broken during transport and carefully repaired by Duchamp. It is now part of the permanent collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Duchamp sanctioned replicas of The Large Glass, the first in 1961 for an exhibition at Moderna Museet in Stockholm and another in 1966 for the Tate Gallery in London.[3][4] The third replica is in Komaba Museum, University of Tokyo.[5]

Visual analysisEdit

The Large Glass consists of two glass panels, suspended vertically and measuring 109.25 in × 69.25 in (277.5 cm × 175.9 cm). The entire composition is shattered, but it rests sandwiched between two pieces of glass, set in a metal frame with a wooden base. The top rectangle of glass is known as the Bride's Domain; the bottom piece is the Bachelors' Apparatus. It consists of many geometric shapes melding together to create large mechanical objects, which seem to almost pop out from the glass and ever-changing background.

All forms on the glass are outlined with lead wire and filled in with earth tone oil paint. The colors range from pale grey to gold to dark brown and black. Some figures are bumpy and cloudy, and contain the dust left on them during the time which the unfinished work lay dormant, which seems to be an attempt at capturing the dynamic passage of time in a sedate work.

The Bride is a mechanical, almost insectile, group of monochrome shaded geometric forms located along the left-hand side of the glass. She is connected to her halo, a cloudy form stretching across the top. Its curvilinear outline and grey shading are starkly offset by the three undulating squares of unpainted glass evenly spaced over the central part of the composition. The Bride's solid, main rectangular form branches out into slender, tentacle-like projections. These include an inverted funnel capped by a half-moon shape, a series of shapes resembling a skull with two misplaced ears, and a long, proboscis-like extension stretching down almost as far as the horizon line between her domain and that of the bachelors. Her top-located domain is almost completely monochrome, with a wash of beige comparable to the cool colors of a cloudy sky.

The Bachelors' earthbound, lower domain, referred to by Duchamp as "La Machine Célibataire" (The Bachelor Machine), is a collection of much warmer, earthier colors of brown and golden tones. The Bachelors' Domain centers on the nine "Malic Molds". These dark brown shapes have a central vertical line, some with horizontal ones across them. They resemble the empty carcasses of clothes hanging from a clothesline, much more than they do actual men. They are interconnected through a spider web of thin lines, tying them to the seven conical cylinders. The cylinders range in color, and move in stages from nearly transparent on the left side, to translucent in the middle, to almost opaque on the far right. The opaque ones have swirling dark brown and gold colors and are almost solid three-dimensional forms, whereas the translucent ones are more ghostly outlines. They are connected in a line from tip to base and form a half circle. This rainbow-like shape is impaled centrally by a pole which connects them to the "chocolate grinder" at the lower part of the glass, and to the X-shaped rods that dominate the top center of the Bachelors' Domain.

There is a chocolate grinder which consists of three drum-like structures, arranged in even spacing around a circular platform. They are appropriately chocolate brown in color, and are very textural, with a series of ridges running around their outside and spiraling out from the center. There are three tiny legs that barely seem to support the entire structure.

The rods interconnect to form a large X, and look like they recede into space. One end is smooth and cylindrical, while the other tapers at the end and is capped with a sphere. The spherical ends are connected to two more rods that run vertically down to yet another machine. It is a contraption similar to a waterwheel with spokes of a bicycle wheel. This is tilted away from the viewer, almost to the point that it is indistinguishable. This in turn is placed on two elongated ovals, which are almost like runners. These support the wheel, along with the framework of a metal box that encases it and intersects with the Bachelors' "feet".

On the right-hand side of the Bachelors' Domain are four faint, circular images. The top one is a perfect circle. A little below that are three circular images tilted away from the viewer. The first has twelve spokes, each spoke consisting of three lines. The middle is made of six concentric circles. The bottom is prickly-looking circle with a small hole in the middle, consisting of outward spiraling lines.

The composition's most dominating feature is the series of spider web cracks, running diagonally from the top right to bottom left of the Bride's Domain, and in an almost figure eight from the top left to bottom right of the Bachelors' Domain forming flowery, flowing designs. Neither cracks nor paint disrupt the right, central plane, which is devoid of decoration, and around which the action of the art plays out. These occurred when the piece was being moved from its first exhibition, and after effecting the repair, Duchamp decided he admired the cracks: an element of chance that enhanced what he had done intentionally, following the flow of energy in the work's composition.

The piece is placed in the Philadelphia Museum of Art gallery beside The Green Box, the selection of Duchamp's own notes on The Large Glass.[6] It stands in front of a window, from which natural light creates a varying atmosphere depending on the time of day, the weather, and the season. It is also surrounded by his other works – both paintings and "readymades" – which form a background which the work otherwise is lacking. In this sense, this image of a frozen machine becomes extremely dynamic and engaging to the viewer.

Duchamp's methodsEdit

I bought two plate-glass panes and started at the top, with the Bride. I worked at least a year on that. Then in 1916 or 1917 I worked on the bottom part, the Bachelors. It took so long because I could never work more than two hours a day. You see, it interested me but not enough to be eager to finish it. I'm lazy, don't forget that. Besides, I didn't have any intention to show it or sell it at that time. I was just doing it, that was my life. And when I wanted to work on it I did, and other times I would go out and enjoy America.[7]

The Large Glass...was gradually assuming the mysterious aura of a famous work of art that hardly anyone had seen. Duchamp's efforts to finish it became more and more sporadic. For six months the Glass lay untouched in the studio, gathering a thick layer of dust which Duchamp then proceeded to use as a pigment, gluing the dust down with varnish to one part of the "bachelor machine" (the "sieves") and wiping the rest away. This gave him a color that did not come from the tube... To arrive at the shapes of the "draught pistons" in the Bride's "Milky Way" (terms from Duchamp's own notes), he made use of the wind: he suspended a square of gauze in an open window, photographed it three times, and reproduced the wind-blown shapes at the top of the Glass. The placement of the Bachelors' nine "shots" (which never do reach the waiting Bride) was effected by dipping matches in wet paint and firing them from a toy cannon at the Glass. The forces of gravity, wind, and "personalized chance" were thus substituted for the workings of his own conscious hand, always in the spirit of hilarity that Duchamp once paraphrased as that "necessary and sufficient twinkling of the eye," and always with the same meticulous, painstaking attention to detail that a scientist might apply to a controlled nuclear experiment.[8]


Duchamp's art does not lend itself to simple interpretations, and The Large Glass is no exception; the notes and diagrams he produced in association with the project – ostensibly as a sort of guidebook – complicate the piece by, for example, describing elements that were not included in the final version as though they nevertheless exist, and "explaining" the whole assembly in stream-of-consciousness prose thick with word play and jokes. Dubbed The Green Box, this 'explanatory work' has been described as "No less ambiguously or freely interpretable than [The Large Glass] itself..."[9]

Linda Dalrymple Henderson picks up on Duchamp's idea of inventing a "playful physics" and traces a quirky Victorian physics out of the notes and The Large Glass itself; numerous mathematical and philosophical systems have been read out of (or perhaps into) its structures.[10]

Most critics, however, read the piece as an exploration of male and female desire as they complicate each other. One critic, for example, describes the basic layout as follows: "The Large Glass has been called a love machine, but it is actually a machine of suffering. Its upper and lower realms are separated from each other forever by a horizon designated as the 'bride's clothes'. The bride is hanging, perhaps from a rope, in an isolated cage, or crucified. The bachelors remain below, left only with the possibility of churning, agonized masturbation."[11]

Gilles Deleuze claims in his 1972 book, Anti-Oedipus, it the last one of the Daniel Paul Schreber's stages, as the celibate machine. The celibate machine consists of auto-erotic consummation and it only produces intensive qualities. The desiring machine allies with the body without organs in this process.[12][non-primary source needed]



  1. ^ Tomkins 1996, p. 297.
  2. ^ Cabannes, Pierre: Dialogues With Marcel Duchamp, p. 109.
  3. ^ Tomkins 1996,[page needed].
  4. ^ The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even, Tate Collection
  5. ^ "Komaba Museum, the University of Tokyo". Archived from the original on 2013-02-10. Retrieved 2014-03-21.
  6. ^ "Philadelphia Museum of Art – Collections Object : The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass)". Philadelphia Museum of Art. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  7. ^ Tomkins 1996, p. 38.
  8. ^ Tomkins 1996, p. 48.
  9. ^ Molderings, Herbert [de]: Duchamp and the Aesthetics of Chance. Columbia University Press: 2010 (p. 8) ISBN 978-0-231-14762-0
  10. ^ Henderson, Linda Dalrymple: "Marcel Duchamp's The King and Queen Surrounded by Swift Nudes (1912) and the Invisible World of Electrons", Weber Studies, Winter 1997, volume 14.1.
  11. ^ Mink, Janis: Marcel Duchamp, 1887–1968: Art as Anti-Art as reproduced at
  12. ^ Deleuze, Gilles; Guattari, Félix (2004). Anti-Oedipus. London: Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 18–19. ISBN 9780826476951.


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