How Herne Bay reinvigorated a famous French artist
When influential French artist Marcel Duchamp arrived in Herne Bay, he was considering giving up art, but after four weeks in the town he returned to Europe full of new ideas.
His time in Herne Bay will be celebrated with a
three-week festival starting at the end of July, featuring exhibitions,
talks, and a schools programme in which Bay youngsters produce their
own works of art to display. Organiser Sue Austen said:
“Marcel Duchamp has been voted
the most influential artist of the 21st century but when he arrived in
Herne Bay at the beginning of August 1913 he was just 26 and deeply
depressed by the reception his last major painting, Nude Descending a
Staircase, had received at the Armory Show in New York.
He was here to chaperone his sister Yvonne who was studying
English at Lynton College. He contemplated giving up art forever, but
after four short weeks Duchamp returned to Europe, refreshed and
intellectually invigorated. Later that year he produced the first kinetic sculpture, Bicycle
Wheel, published his ideas on objets trouvés and created the totally
unique Three Standard Stoppages.
The art world reeled from his new ideas – our town often has this effect on people.”
Sue, who together with Jason Hollingsworth make up the BayGuide
team behind the festival, said the aim was to show that Herne Bay was
still a special place.
There will also be a talk by Mike Bundock of Herne Bay Historical
Records Society on what the town was like at the time, a sculpture
trail curated by Karen Simpson and a symposium at the King’s Hall
curated by Duchamp expert Francis M Naumann.