On permanent exhibit in an obscure University of Tokyo museum is one of the officially sanctioned replicas of French-American artist Marcel Duchamp’s deliberately unfinished artwork. It is officially titled “La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même” (translating to “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even”), though more commonly known as “Le Grand Verre” (or “the Large Glass”), which aptly describes this enigmatic installation.
The piece consists of two large panes of glass showing a mysterious mechanism. The original work, made between 1915 to 1923, was accidentally damaged in 1926. But Duchamp left numerous notes about the creation of the piece, which were used to create three replicas of the artwork sanctioned by the artist: one in Stockholm, another in the Tate Gallery in London (both completed in 1960s), and the last one in Tokyo, made in 1980.
The Tokyo replica was created under the supervision of art critics Yoshiaki Tōno and Shūzō Takiguchi, who had been studying Duchamp’s works. Their aim was to deepen their understanding of both the work and the artist by following the same processes of creation. They minutely studied the notes and the original work in Philadelphia, then created a copy using materials and methods as close to the original as possible.
The replica of Duchamp’s “Large Glass” is now on display at Komaba Museum in the University of Tokyo, Komaba. The oversized see-through panel stands in the center of the exhibition room on the first floor, surrounded by occasional special exhibition items.