Marcel Duchamp’s Rotoreliefs


Marcel Duchamp, Rotoreliefs, 1935. RB N7433.3.D83

In 1935, Marcel Duchamp published Rotoreliefs, a set of 6 double sided discs meant to be spun on a turntable at 40–60 rpm. Duchamp and Man Ray filmed early versions of the spinning discs for the short film Anémic Cinéma. A manifestation of Duchamp’s interest in optical illusions and mechanical art, the two-dimensional rotoreliefs create an illusion of depth when spun at the correct speed. These rotoreliefs were produced in an edition of 500, and were initially displayed and offered for sale at the Concours Lépine inventor’s fair. The Guggenheim Library is the only New York library that holds this rare item.

  • Jake Davis

    The rotorelief on the lower right is up on YouTube, spinning its trick:

    • Todd Childers

      This quicktime video that shows the relationships between wach composition in Max Bill’s serial compositions called “Fifteen Variations on a Theme”. I used in my TYPO SHIFT: Berlin presentation in 2011. This video was used to show the connection between Max Bill’s version of Concrete Art/Constructivism and Generative Art.

  • MichaelJWilson

    These would make superb DJ slipmats.

  • gracefranck

    Here’s Duchamp’s Anémic Cinéma film from 1926 showing the Rotoreliefs in motion:

  • Todd Childers

    The thing impresses me the most about the examples shown in this posting, is how similar these compostions are to 1930s-50s Concrete Art/Constructivist compositions by artist/ designers Max Bill, Karl Gerstner and others. The composition on the lower left is remarkably similar to one of Max Bill’s serial compositions titled “15 Variations on a Theme”. Surprisingly this composition appears to be based upon the golden section proportions.

  • MichaelJWilson

    Along comparable lines more recently, there’s Rodney Graham’s Rotary Psycho-Opticon (2008):

  • Wieland Schmidt

    repress please! 😉