Best Practices: Marcel Dzama’s Fantastical Visions Bring a Spirited World Alive

More treasures, including a Marcel Duchamp necktie.
PHOTO: MARCEL DZAMA

The room in which Marcel Dzama secluded himself to work this past spring does not lack for whimsicality. Shelves stocked with art books serve double duty as a home for Gumby figurines and tins of smoked sausages labeled with hokey drawings of a boy from what looks like the 1950s-era heyday of canned meats. A kitschy Marcel Duchamp necktie alludes to Tu m’ (the artist’s last painting on canvas, itself an impish nest of allusions), and then there are two portrait busts acquired from eBay, one of the hot-blooded Romantic poet William Blake and the other of horror-movie maven Vincent Price.

In line with horror, the studio abounds in darkness too. A sign bearing a skull and crossbones warns of “danger” that had coursed through wires inside a Mexican electrical box, and Guadalajaran devil masks peer down on a Stormtracker emergency radio (with a hand crank for recharging when the power goes out) and a copy of Bela Lugosi’s 1931 Dracula on a spool of Super 8 film.

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