Exhibitions: HIDE/SEEK: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture

Florine Stettheimer: Portrait of Marcel Duchamp

In this portrait, Florine Stettheimer presents Marcel Duchamp as an androgynous, disembodied, light-emanating head. From 1915 until 1935, Stettheimer and her sisters hosted a salon for New York’s cultural elite in their flamboyantly decorated Upper East Side apartment—replete with cellophane drapery, rococo furniture, and Florine’s paintings of their guests. The Stettheimers’ salon was a space where sexuality remained fluid, ambiguous, and largely unspoken, yet at the center of social roles. Marcel Duchamp joined the Stettheimers’ milieu in 1917 and remained one of Florine’s most important guests and ardent supporters. “Marcel in real life is pure fantasy,” wrote Henry McBride, art critic and fellow member of the Stettheimers’ circle. “He is his own best creation.”