Conscripting the 'Jura-Paris Road': Military Themes in the Work of Marcel Duchamp

  • Kieran Lyons

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The research claims that Marcel Duchamp was significantly affected by military structures in France between 1905-1915 and mat this relationship between the artist and me military establishment becomes evident as a theme in his work of the period. This military theme resurfaces periodically as an identifiable thematic throughout his life.

    The thesis is driven by questions that link together two episodes in Duchamp's career that although regularly cited have never been considered in relation to one another:

    1. his military conscription in 1905 - 1906.
    2. the automobile journey between the Jura and Paris in October 1912 and its formulation into the note, the 'Jura-Paris road.'

    These two events appear routinely in the literature on Marcel Duchamp; nevertheless they attract insufficient critical attention and in the case of the 'Jura-Paris road', remains as a mysterious anomaly that is particularly resistant to analysis. The continual reference to these two events, in the literature, without
    satisfactory exegesis only relegates their importance to the marginalia of Duchamp's career, and this problem is addressed hi this thesis. Rather than being marginal events, Marcel Duchamp's conscription into the army and his later formulation, seven years later, of the Jura to Paris motor-journey in terms of a military invasion of territory, should be interpreted as episodes of more central importance. They contribute significantly to an understanding of his practice in this period and in his subsequent work. The thesis tracks this military influence through a range of the artist's work, which the author brings together as a strand that he describes as his 'Military Preoccupation.' The thesis is arranged into six chapters that consider this material in terms of its literature, artefacts and competing histories, backed up by field research.
    Date of Award17 Apr 2007
    Original languageEnglish


    • Marcel Duchamp
    • 1905-1915
    • Conscription
    • Jura-Paris road
    • Military Preoccupation

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