Robert Lebel, French art critic and collector, was instrumental in rendering Marcel Duchamp s often hermetic life, art, and ideas accessible to a wider public across Europe and the United States, principally with his 1959 publication "Sur Marcel Duchamp," the first monograph and catalogue raisonne devoted to the artist. Duchamp was a willing partner in the book s creation. In fact, his active participation in both its conception and layout was so substantial that the book is considered part of the artist s oeuvre. But the project took six years to complete. The trials, tribulations, quarrels, and machinations that plagued the production, publication, and publicity of "Sur Marcel Duchamp" are the focus of this correspondence between two lifelong friends. Translated and printed in full together for the first time, and including the original French texts, these letters, postcards, and telegrams from the collection of the Getty Research Institute offer uncensored access to the evolution of the relationship between Lebel and Duchamp from December 1946 to April 1967.
They provide valuable information about their daily activities as well as those of friends and colleagues, vital details concerning their various collective projects, and illuminating insights into their thinking about art and life. These documents, witty and sincere, bear witness to the art of friendship and a friendship in art."