Carlo Maria Mariani (birthdate unknown)
Oil and graphite on canvas, 1990

Carlo Maria Mariani and Carol Lane
© Carlo Maria Mariani / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

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In Carlo Maria Mariani’s portrait, Marcel Duchamp takes on the proportions and gravity of a classical sculpture. The allusion to the antique past is heightened by the arch in front of which Duchamp poses. While borrowing from history, Mariani also brings his subject into the present, depicting Duchamp in the fur collar, necklace, and hat worn by Rrose Sélavy in Man Ray’s 1921 photograph.

Despite his reference to Duchamp’s feminine self, Mariani maintains Duchamp’s masculine features behind the feminine appearance. The result is an identity in flux. Mariani’s painting also references a specific work from the history of art: Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, whose pose Duchamp adopts here. Mirroring, and perhaps parodying, Duchamp’s gesture in his work L.H.O.O.Q, in which the artist drew a mustache and goatee on a reproduction of the Mona Lisa, Mariani has drawn a trim mustache and goatee on the painting’s surface.

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Listen to co-curator James McManus discuss this image: