“…the modern age is about becoming, not being.”
With precision and alacrity, aloof as machinery, she shucked past selves like shrimp shells, as down time’s squared steps she came, less and less of her left, exoskeletons stripped, shed skins stepped from to become her handmaidens of shadow and echo, blurs in the slow eye of open exposure a wake of streamlines, a printed wind, no frame able to cage her cutting edge. Robed in a raison d’être of perpetual motion, strip tease a la tart was no part of her art. No virtuoso of contrapposto, she never stood still for still life. Her moves didn’t square with Parisian Cubists, so she made her debut spot-lit descending with the brassy Broadway drama of a New Year’s countdown. The belle of ballistics, lit fuse on a status quo about to blow, accident-in-waiting at the 1919 New York Armory Show. A femme fatale, she might as well have thrown herself from the gallery wall like a Molotov cocktail, exploding smug notions of blue-bloods, glamorati and first-nighters. Ironic, metallic, electric, eclectic, a disembodied disappointment, not the fleshy temptress who gallery glitterati came for— no supine Venus; no silken glove love could slip easily into. Bedridden prime rib is what they wanted; spoiled dove oiled by Titian, Ingres or Manet, rendered in full frontal verisimilitude, given the eye and then the brush. Instead, quick as cards shuffle, she splintered and merged, a sepia chimera shifting through ochre, sienna and burnt umber— Her pigmenter, creator, publicist, lover Marcel Duchamp, left her hanging, left painting too, creating instead the ‘ready-mades’ that made his name. With change as the oil in her flesh tones, she never was now for long, always getting a move on, on her way — ahead of herself with ambulance urgency. Kaleidoscopic, pyrotechnic, manic, she’s still a shape-shifting siren of the age of change, still moving those who woo her, during visiting hours, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.