Without its paper wrapper, Duchamp's cigarette becomes something else entirely-a potent signifier of sexuality stripped bare; a naked assemblage of chance in which the liberated tobacco rejoices in disarray. It may also represent a visual pun on the term découpage, which literally means "cutting out" but is more broadly defined as a mixing of elements-for instance, the text and images in George Hugnet's book of poemes-découpages for which Duchamp created this image. In the book, a page of text and symbols in different typefaces is juxtaposed with pasted images and scraps of text from other printed media. Poetry and collage work together-or against each other-to simultaneously create and undermine meaning through a seemingly random grouping of disparate elements.
Georges Hugnet to Kolodny; Frank Kolodny to MacGill; [Pace/MacGill to Waddell, October 1, 1985]; John C. Waddell
Artist: Marcel Duchamp (American (born France), Blanville 1887–1968 Neuilly-sur-Seine)Date: 1941Medium: Cloth-covered cardboard box containing miniature replicas and color reproductions of works by DuchampAccession: 68.620On view in:Not on view