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Rrose SÚlavy, or Rose SÚlavy, was one of the pseudonyms of artist Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968). The name, a pun, sounds like the French phrase ‘Eros, c’est la vie’ [Eros, that's life]. It has also been read as ‘arroser la vie’ [to make a toast to life].
In 1921 SÚlavy emerged in a series of photographs by Man Ray of Duchamp dressed as a woman. Through the 1920s, Man Ray and Duchamp collaborated on more photos of SÚlavy. Duchamp later used the name as the by-line on written material and signed several creations with it. Duchamp used the name in the title of at least one sculpture, ‘Why Not Sneeze, Rose SÚlavy?’ (1921). The sculpture, an assemblage, consists of an oral thermometer and a couple dozen small cubes of marble resembling sugar cubes inside a birdcage. SÚlavy also appears on the label of ‘Belle Haleine, Eau de Voilette’ (1921), a readymade that is a perfume bottle in the original box. Duchamp also signed his film ‘Anemic Cinema’ (1926) with SÚlavy’s name.
From 1922 the name Rrose SÚlavy also started appearing in a series of aphorisms, puns and spoonerisms by the French surrealist poet Robert Desnos. Desnos tried to portray Rrose SÚlavy as a long lost aristocrat and the rightful queen of France. Aphorism 13 paid homage to Marcel Duchamp: ‘Rrose SÚlavy connaţt bien le marchand du sel’ [Rrose SÚlavy knows the merchant of salt well]; in French the final words sound like Mar-champ Du-cel, a phonetic rearrangement of the syllables in the artist's actual name: ‘mar-cel-du-champ’ - Duchamp's compiled notes are titled 'Salt Seller'. In 1939 a collection of these aphorisms was published under the name of Rrose SÚlavy, entitled ‘Poils et coups de pieds en tous genres’ [all kinds of whiskers and kicks].
See also Man Ray and Niandra LaDes.
‘Rrose SÚlavy’, Wikipedia, retrieved 2 October 2013
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