Miskatonic University Press

Theodore Roosevelt on "Nude Descending a Staircase"

marcel.duchamp quotes

Theodore Roosevelt went to the 1913 Armory Show in New York City and wrote a review in The Outlook on 22 March 1913 titled “A Layman’s Views of an Art Exhibition.” I quote his comments on Marcel Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase:”

Take the picture which for some reason is called “A Naked Man Going Down Stairs.” There is in my bathroom a really good Navajo rug which, on any proper interpretation of the Cubist theory, is a far more satisfactory and decorative picture. Now, if, for some inscrutable reason, it suited somebody to call this rug a picture of, say, “A Well-Dressed Man Going Up a Ladder,” the name would fit the facts just about as well as in the case of the Cubist picture of the “Naked Man Going Down Stairs.” From the standpoint of terminology each name would have whatever merit inheres in a rather cheap straining after effect; and from the standpoint of decorative value, of sincerity, and of artistic merit, the Navajo rug is infinitely ahead of the picture.