“Roussel was another great enthusiasm of mine in the early days. The reason I admired him was because he produced something I had never seen. That is the only thing that brings admiration from my innermost being – something completely independent – nothing to do with the great names or influences. Apollinaire first showed Roussel’s work to me. It was poetry. Roussel thought he was a philologist, a philosopher and metaphysician. But he remains a great poet.
It was fundamentally Roussel who was responsible for my glass, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even. From his Impressions d’Afrique I got the general approach. This play of his which I saw with Apollinaire helped me greatly on one side of my expression. I saw at once I could use Roussel as an influence. I felt that as a painter it was much better to be influenced by a writer than by another painter. And Roussel showed me the way.
My ideal library would have contained all Roussel’s writings – Brisset, perhaps Lautréamont and Mallarmé. Mallarmé was a great figure. This is the direction in which art should turn: to an intellectual expression, rather than to an animal expression. I am sick of the expression ‘bête comme up peintre’ – stupid as a painter.”
(Duchamp, interviewed by James Johnson Sweeney, 1946)