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Abstract

Duchamp’s personal notes from 1914-1915 describe a strange project: to renew art by “a geographical landsca-pe, in the way of geographical maps” (« un paysagisme géographi-que à la façon des cartes géographi-que »). Why take up landscape painting again, while the avant-garde has done without it for a long time? Why be a geographer in 1914, while geography is used to wage war? In this paper we interpret Duchamp’s works and texts in the context of the First World War: discharged from military duty, the idle artist may have medi-tated on the evolution of European avant-gardism. His geographical pro-ject was one of the demonstrations of his fascination with geometrical ap-proaches of reality, which the nation-alism of the avant-garde had led astray. It could also have been the expression of a bitter and ironic vi-sion of avant-garde politics.

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