Doing some research yesterday, I stumbled upon chocolate manufacturing making a cameo appearance in the history of modern art. Marcel Duchamp, the Dadaist/Surrealist best known for signing a urinal “R. Mutt” and displaying it as art, also apparently knew something about how chocolate is made. One of his later works, The Large Glass, aka “The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even“, consists of two large glass panels. The top (“the Bride”) contains an insectile figure, and the bottom, nine empty suits on a wheel that turns a….chocolate grinder.
(As an example of how abstruse Duchamp can be, and why he’s so entertaining, the French title of this work is La mariée mis à nu par ses célibataires, même, which contains MARiee CELibataires. To further confound people, he published a multiple part subscription book called The Green Box dedicated to “explaining” this work. Rather than some kind of straightforward essay, subscribers got a grab bag of copied explainations, sculpture, and found objects.)
I’m not equipped as an art critic, but Duchamp’s use of chocolate grinding as a kind of futile, Sisyphean effort of the empty-suited Bachelors to reach their Bride is sort of a grim counterpoint to the overt romantic images used to market chocolate these days. Or maybe I’m just crazy.