Nude Descending

This, following my Mondrian pages, is another exploration of the impact of an early piece of modern art on its own and on subsequent generations.

Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2), 1913 is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The PMA's own web site states,

This painting created a sensation when it was exhibited in New York in February 1913 at the historic Armory Show of contemporary art, where perplexed Americans saw it as representing all the tricks they felt European artists were playing at their expense. The picture's outrageousness surely lay in its seemingly mechanical portrayal of a subject at once so sensual and time-honored. The Nude's destiny as a symbol also stemmed from its remarkable aggregation of avant-garde concerns: the birth of cinema; the Cubists' fracturing of form; the Futurists' depiction of movement; the chromophotography of Etienne-Jules Marey, Eadweard Muybridge, and Thomas Eakins; and the redefinitions of time and space by scientists and philosophers. The painting was bought directly from the Armory Show for three hundred dollars by a San Francisco dealer. Marcel Duchamp's great collector-friend Walter Arensberg was able to buy the work in 1927, eleven years after Duchamp had obligingly made him a hand-colored, actual-size photographic copy. Today both the copy and the original, together with a preparatory study, are owned by the Museum.


The influences seem to be Cubism and Muybridge's serial photographs (interesting sample here).
Nude Descending Stairs, 1887


Two common questions are, 'where is the nude?' and 'where is the staircase?'. Fortunately, these are not important.

It is worth bearing in mind that Duchamp was a key player in the Surrealist, Futurist and American Dada movements. Two of his other most famous works are,

Fountain, 1917

Duchamp referred to such pieces as readymades, but the practice became more widely known as found art, This was the first of several urinals he turned into art during his lifetime, this one being signed R Mutt. It was rejected as not being art for the 1917 Society of Independent Artists exhibition, from the board of which Duchamp then resigned.

This work, from 1919,  was entitled L.H.O.O.Q., thought to be a play on 'words' as, when said in French sounds rather like 'she has a hot ass'.

It has been suggested that rather than just using a poster of the original Mona Lisa, he repainted it to look more like himself.

a detail of the face

Duchamp produced several paintings in a cubist style, some similar to Nude Descending


Sonata, 1911

Dulcinea, 1911

Portrait of Chess Players, 1911

Transition of Virgin into a Bride, 1912


Sad Young Man in a Train


Two more important points before we continue:

bulletI have a profound affection of much modern art, but little respect for art critics.
bulletThere will be no gratuitous nudity on these pages. Our low watermark is here.

What follows is a trawl of modern artistic output to discover homages to Duchamp's Nude Descending.

Let's start at home with

Modest Self Portrait of the Artist as a Nude Man Descending a Staircase, 2005

also including the Mondrian Collection

Now two from my favourite active artist, Mark Caywood

Staircase Descending a Nude #1, from here

Staircase Descending a Nude #2, from here

Mark also does a fine line in Mondrians, see here.

Hananiah Harari, Nude Descending a Staircase from here.

Artist's comments from the source web site, I felt impelled towards a renewed disposition of this subject made notorious with the uproar over Marcel Duchamp's entry in the 1913 Armory Show. The theme has since become generic, as have themes such as bathers, piping Pans, or reclining nudes.. But my own statement would not or could not, be cast in Duchamp's cubist-futurist idiom. Serendipity led me to the Pre-Raphaelite Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones whose painting The Golden Stairs suggested a scaffold for my own. His Victorian maidens, a saccharine demiseraphic troupe, were for me quite naturally no more embraceable than Duchamp's metallic robots. However the sweep of Burne-Jones' design provided my nude her stage. She makes entrance, then descends to diverse portraits comprising not only head, but body & temper - revealed step by step as it were, in shifting colors, light, and action. After "performing" in choreographed (sometimes mocking) descent , she exits below to Art and to the World. (My debt to Burne-Jones is acknowledged in the lower right hand corner of my work, where his name can be seen on a crumpled candy-wrapper.

Angela Hrabowiak, Nude descending staircase with her cock in her hand, 1992 from here.
Rufus Butler Seder, Nude descending a staircase' (detail) from here.
  Jonathan Lane, Nude; Descending Staircase
Stairway at Tobacco Road - Miami, see it here
Awaiting permission to display.
William Richard Hundley, Nude Descending Again, 2001 from here
Dan Feldman, Fork Descending A Staircase, 1997 from here
Michael Townsend, from here
Here's another of mine, Muybridge nude descending Escher staircase, 2005
Vince Budnick, Nude descending an escalator, 1998 from here
John Wrobleski, Nude Descending a Staircase, 2004 from here

a rather literal reading

James M. Glenn, Nude descending stairs, from here
Peter Saul, Nude Descending a Staircase, 1977 from here
Phil Bacon, Nude Descending a Staircase, from here
G. Frederick Morante, Nude Descending the Stare Case, 1993 from here
Elisabeth Flynn-Chapman, Nude Descending the Staircase, 2004 from here

Rolf-Maria Krückels, Nude Descending a Staircase, 1996 from here

This is a single image from multiple-image works.

Peter Max, Nude Descending. 1974 from here
Chuck Jones, Nude Duck Descending a Staircase, 1991 from here
Reinier Kelder, Descending Nude, from here
Derek Sayer,  nude descending a staircase, from here
Tony Ward, Ascending Staircase from here
Glenn Ibbitson, male ascending staircase, from here
Another of mine, a rather fetchingly shaped carrot from the allotment gives us

Carrot descending a sea of steps.

Thanks to Robert W. Kolb for the background image from here.

Steve Ritchie, Nude Descending Stairs, from here
another Steve Ritchie, Nude Reclining on Stairs, from here
Ed Freeman, Nude on Staircase, from here
Chad Robertson, Nude Falling Down a Staircase, from here

from the web page,
Disturbing, provocative, sometimes humorous, and often characterized by a seductive melancholy, Chad's paintings have a disarmingly lifelike quality and a colloquial style that make them appear at first glance to be poorly shot photographs-over-exposed and taken by a shaky hand. The result is a jarring study in the quiet isolation of his subjects.

Peter Edwards, Nude Decending [?] Staircase, from here
Dali, Nude Woman Climbing a Staircase, from here
Flea (artist or editor?), Alice ascending a staircase at a St. Louis Rave, from here
MicHael Galkovsky (?), nudeStaircaseMultiple, from here

This is probably the best so far. I would have straightened up the fishtank, but perhaps it was a conscious decision not to do so.

Patrick Lincoln, Nude coming down the staircase looking for Marcel Duchamp, from here.
Gerhard Richter, Ema (Nude on a Staircase) 1966 from here
artist unknown, nude descending a staircase (animated), from here
Lorrie McClanahan, nude cat descending a staircase, from here
John Carmichael, Nude on Staircase, from here
Ira Carter, Elvis Descending a Staircase, from here

I'll date the additions from here on: 14th Oct 05

Ralph Lichtensteiger, Bea Descending a Staircase No. 2, 1999, from here

14th Oct 05

D M Scott, Julie Descending a Staircase, 2003, from here

14th Oct 05

Michael Bergt, "Nude Descending a Stairway" (2002) 27 x 20", colored pencil, gouache on paper, from here

14th Oct 05

Jim McNitt, Nude Descending a Guitar Case, 2003, from here

14th Oct 05

Gordon Lochhead, Descending, 1998, from here

14th Oct 05

This will be the last on the page, and the last on the last page if I get enough for a split.

Mel Ramos, Nude Descending A Staircase  here

Has qualities of draughtsmanship, but no artistic merit whatsoever.

images 250 to 100

Google nude descending complete, nude staircase complete,


Interesting Links
Walking as Art, from which comes
UpOn sEEing MUYBRIDGE's Nudes Descending