Caumont, Jacques 1932–

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Caumont, Jacques 1932–

PERSONAL: Born May 20, 1932.

ADDRESSES: Home—Le Ver à Val, Hautot-le-Vatois, 76190 Yvetot, France. Agent—c/o Author Mail, BMC Atlas Press, 27 Old Gloucester St., London WC1N 3XX, England.

CAREER: Academie de Muséologie Evocatoire, founder with Jennifer Gogh-Cooper; associated with College de Pataphysique.


Raynaud, Galerie Rive-Droite (Paris, France), 1971.

(Editor, with Jennifer Gough-Cooper) Yves Klein, 1928–1962, Selected Writings (exhibition catalog), translated by Barbara Wright, Tate Gallery Publications (London, England), 1974.

Plan pour écrire une vie de Marcel Duchamp, Musée National d'Art Moderne/Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou (Paris, France), 1977.

(With Jennifer Gough-Cooper) La vie illustrée de Marcel Duchamp, illustrated by André Raffray, Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pomipdiou (Paris, France), 1977, translation by Antony Melville published as Marcel Duchamp: A Life in Pictures, Atlas Press (London, England) 1999.

(Editor) Prosopopées, Academie de Muséologie Evocatoire (Yvetot, France), 1993.

(With Jennifer Gough-Cooper) Marcel Duchamp: Work and Life (exhibition catalog), edited and introduced by Pontus Hulten, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1993.

L'écheveau du cas Roussel, illustrated by Henri-Achille Zo, Musé Nicéphore Niépce (Chalon-sur-Saône, France) 2000.

Also author with Jennifer Gough-Cooper of Marcel Duchamp: Ephemeredes Thames & Hudson. Co-editor, Prosopopés review, 1978–89.

SIDELIGHTS: French art historian Jacques Caumont is a specialist in the works of his compatriot Marcel Duchamp. Over a career that has spanned more than forty years, Caumont has researched and written several works about Duchamp, who, like many of the other Dadaist artists working in Europe in the early twentieth century, created works that challenged viewers' concepts of what defined art. In particular, Duchamp painted portraits that showed motion in a new way and assembled sculptures using everyday objects in startling combinations. Caumont's writings about Duchamp and his works include exhibition catalogs and biographies: Plan pour écrire une vie de Marcel Duchamp, a biography of the artist's first thirty years; La vie illustrée de Marcel Duchamp, a 1977 exhibition catalog that was translated and published in English twenty years later as Marcel Duchamp: A Life in Pictures; and Marcel Duchamp: Work and Life, a combination biography and exhibition catalog.

Caumont's writings about Duchamp have been viewed by some as almost as perplexing as the artist himself. For example, Marcel Duchamp: A Life in Pictures appears to be a children's picture book; Jake Kennedy wrote for Tout-Fait online that the book, "though indeed elegant and informative, seems more geared for the art world set than the sandbox crowd."

For the Duchamp exhibition held in Venice in 1993, Caumont and Jennifer Gough-Cooper wrote the text of Marcel Duchamp: Work and Life. This double-faced work is an exhibition catalog when read from one direction and, if read from the other direction, a chronology of the artist's life arranged day-to-day by astrological sign. "The organization of the catalogue reflects that of the exhibition," observed Craig Adcock in the Art Journal, adding, "Both were apparently intended to hint at the intricacies of Duchamp's working method—the way he liked to contradict himself in order to avoid conforming to his own taste, his love of chance, and most of all, the way he returned to his central themes over and over again throughout his lifetime." While this interesting organizational scheme suggests to readers that they should approach Duchamp's works in a nonlinear way, it also makes the book somewhat difficult to use. According to Adcock, "As a work of scholarship Marcel Duchamp: Work and Life leaves something to be desired. It is frustrating to use and needs footnotes and a good index." Nevertheless, he conceded, "As a work of art, it is a wonderful book filled with many delightful surprises. It is a pleasure to browse, finding little anecdotes here and there, and it makes you like Duchamp. The book is one that Duchamp himself would have enjoyed." A Publishers Weekly reviewer predicted that the work "will be prized by scholars and aficionados of modern art."



Art Journal, summer, 1994, Craig Adcock, review of Marcel Duchamp: Work and Life, pp. 105-107.

Publishers Weekly, September 30, 1993, review of Marcel Duchamp: Work and Life, p. 56.


New Media Studies Online, (March 11, 2005), review of Marcel Duchamp: A Life in Pictures.

Tout-Fait Online, (March 11, 2005), Jake Kennedy, "A Life in Pictures Revisited," review of Marcel Duchamp: A Life in Pictures.