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There have been countless efforts in art history to commemorate love, lust and infatuation for another, but none have really roused the old romantic in my heart as much as Marcel Duchamp’s Paysage Fautif.

It appears to be a harmless, almost nonchalant splatter of paint but in the 1980s the splotch was found to be Duchamp’s very own semen on black satin. There are some things you learn through X-rays and radiocarbon dating, but then there are some for which you only need to know of Duchamp’s naughty sense of humor (and probably the contents of some old love letters).


This spunky offering was a testament of his fancy for a Brazilian diplomat’s wife, Maria Martins. She was a sculptor herself and sometimes counted among the Surrealists, 'cause they were her main hang. The title of the work translates as "faulty" or "offending landscape" – which means that Duchamp was aware that the results of his self-abuse sprayed on a piece of canvas could offend not just the recipient, but also the art world. He has been known to offend, on occasion, with his continuously outrageous takes on what art ought to be (like his Fountain made out of a urinal.) 


But this conceptual yet sensual work may take the cake. Paysage Fautif shows Duchamp’s interest in the erotic and the sexual while simultaneously de-sexualizing the object he makes. It doesn't look perverted until you know what it is. Some have called this the “readymade self-portrait”, and in a way it totally is.


It's also a work that says: “I had a picture of you in my head when I was beating myself off, and here’s a picture of how that finished." So here’s to happy endings!