Marcel Duchamp playing chess with Eve Babitz, 1964
Silver Gelatin Print
Edition size: 15
Walter Hopps, the curator of Duchamp's landmark retrospective at The Pasadena Art Museum, helped direct this shot by setting up the chess board in front of the artwork "The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even" (1915-1923). Even Eve Babitz was having an affair with Walter Hopps at the time.
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*Available with a sleek contemporary black frame with white archival.
Wasser's most notorious photo session was of groundbreaking artist Marcel Duchamp playing chess with a naked Eve Babitz in 1963 at the Pasadena Museum of Art during Duchamp's first retrospective. Organized by Walter Hopps, then director of the museum (now the Norton Simon Museum), the exhibition was the first comprehensive survey of Duchamp's storied career, which began in 1911 at the legendary Armory show in New York. Duchamp, by this time, was the most influential artist in the world, having revolutionized the modern art world with his unconventional concepts. At the time, he had retired from being an artist to pursue his passion for chess.
As the story goes...news photographer Julian Wasser was sent on assignment by TIME Magazine to cover, what anyone from the press would have classified as,"just another art event." At first, he was unaware of the relevance of the exhibition, but once Wasser arrived at the museum, he quickly assessed the importance of the event. Perhaps it was a question of importance of the event. Perhaps it was a question of fate - being at the right place at the right time - but the fact that the opening reception attracted renowned artists of that day would be the impetus that put Wasser on the map. Well known artists such as Ed Ruscha, Billy Al Bengston, Larry Bell, Dennis Hopper, and a young Andy Warhol all attended the opening reception. These cutting edge artists were Wasser's subjects. He captured the most authentic and compelling photos of revered artists of the 1960's, 1970' and 1980's.
Julian Wasser's photographs of Los Angeles life can be seen in his book THE WAY WE WERE published by D.A.P. Damiani.