Coin de chasteté (Wedge of Chastity)

Marcel Duchamp

Blainville-Crevon, France, 1887 - Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, 1968
  • Date: 
    1954 / Casting of 1963
  • Material: 
    Bronze and resin
  • Technique: 
    Casting and cast
  • Dimensions: 
    6,2 x 8,8 x 4,5 cm
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Marcel Duchamp’s three erotic objects were based on plaster moulds, later cast in bronze, of parts of the female body, centrepiece of his last work, the installation Étant donnés (1946-1966). These fragments refer back to his previous work around ready-mades in the way they are in direct contact with reality, and they also show the importance for Duchamp of the work as an “index”: something that is connected to its model by its physical contact with it, moving it away from simple representation into a more tangential relationship with reality. In Feuille de vigne femelle (Female Fig Leaf) there is an explicit erotic meaning, and an imprint taken directly from the body, which in Objet dard (Dart Object) becomes an ambiguous reference not only visually but also linguistically, as the title includes a word with phallic connotations (‘dard’), which is a homophone of the phrase “d’art”. Coin de chasteté (Wedge of Chastity) was chosen as a wedding gift for his last wife, Alexina. Its erotic meaning is varied, because by using two elements and materials it alludes to intercourse and the impossibility of intercourse in a single gesture that unites sexuality and violence. These objects, within Duchamp’s final period, signal his interest in restoring an explicit, powerful, threatening female presence, such as there had been in Le grand verre.

Carmen Fernández Aparicio