At the Grantwood artist colony, in Ridgefield, NJ, autumn, 1915…

…American artist Emmanuel Radnitzky, 25, who signs his paintings Man Ray and lives here with his wife, Belgian poet Adon, 28, sees two men walking towards him.

The older man he recognizes as Pittsburgh-born modern art collector Walter Arensberg, 37. Ray has been supplementing his income by documenting the collections of wealthy New Yorkers like Arensberg and Ohio-born John Quinn, 45. Arensberg has helped his artsy friends in Grantwood start an avant-garde magazine, Others, just this past summer.

The other man, tall, nattily dressed, and definitely French, is surreal artist Marcel Duchamp, 28, who has been given a studio in Arensberg’s 67th Street apartment just across the Hudson River in New York City. Duchamp caused quite a stir two years ago at the Armory Show with his painting, Nude Descending a Staircase, described as an explosion in a shingle factory.

Nude Descending a Staircase by Marcel Duchamp

Nude Descending a Staircase by Marcel Duchamp

 

Duchamp approaches Ray, but speaks little English. Ray speaks little French. They each instantly pick up tennis racquets and proceed to play a game. With no net. As Ray described it later in his autobiography,

In order to have a conversation I would give a name to each pass […] and each time Duchamp would reply in English with a single word, “Yes”…’

They become life-long friends.

 

 

 

 

Rutherford, NJ, one year later, 1916

Rutherfor NJ 1916Front row, L-R: Alison Hartpence, Afred Kreymborg, WCW, Skip Cannell; Back row, L-R: Jean Crotti, Marcel Duchamp, Walter Arensberg, Man Ray, R.A. Sanborn, Maxwell BodenheimThis year, we’ll be telling stories about these groups of ‘such friends,’ before, during and after their times together.
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