Checked Mate - Time Frame - Los Angeles magazine
 
 

Checked Mate

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Why this image of 20-year-old novelist Eve Babitz is considered one of the most significant images of California modern art

Norton Simon Museum. Elapsed Time: 51 years. Photograph by Dustin Snipes.

The philandering curator of Marcel Duchamp’s 1963 retrospective at the Pasadena Art Museum (now the Norton Simon) neglected to invite his own mistress, the writer Eve Babitz, to the pre-opening party, a slight that enraged the up-and-coming novelist. So when photographer Julian Wasser approached her about posing nude at the museum for a game of chess with the famous surrealist (inset), she vengefully assented. The unsanctioned nudity, which Babitz later characterized as a “guerrilla act,” took place in a gallery right under the noses of unsuspecting patrons. Duchamp won every round. Today the photo of the scorned 20-year-old is considered one of the most significant images of California modern art. 

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