The collective imagination tends to see Marcel Duchamp as a remote thinker; a pure intellectual who throws off the shackles of art itself to dedicate himself to the pursuits of the mind – breaking free of the materiality of art to nurture ideas, and turning his back on the ‘artist’s enslavement to manual dexterity’. However, it is known that the artist completed many crafted works, almost in secret – based on precision, meticulousness and hard work. His taste for materials and beautiful works is visible in the care taken with producing the different series for Box in a valise and Standard stoppages, as well as his bookbindings for Please Touch and Alfred Jarry’s Ubu the King. In a practical reflection of his mechanistic view of the word, Duchamp embodies the idea of pure work; almost intransitive; inward-looking; a minimalistic output.The flip side of the artist’s thoroughly hedonistic, dilettante personality is a hard-working, ascetic trait that revels in solitude and self-sacrifice, with fanatical attention to the finishing touches. Here, the emphasis is not on inventiveness, but rather on hard work, in something of a provocative, ironic return to the mechanical nature of the servile arts, foreshadowing the repetitive nature of the conceptual art developed by Sol LeWitt and Hanne Darboven among others. Working from the starting point of these creative tensions between form, thought, intelligence and technique, the Thought in deeds exhibition is the first in a series devised by Guillaume Désanges.This programme of exhibitions will thus start out with the figure of Marcel Duchamp, from the perspective of subverted craftsmanship – a direct and electrifying extrapolation of intellectual activity.This involves bringing together contemporary practices based on obsession, finishing touches and physical work as an extension of thought, offering an ascetic view of life, unfettered by the considerations of time or productivity that the outside world seeks to impose. The first in a cycle of the same name — although it could just as well be named “A gift for Marcel” — the exhibition serves as a curtain-raiser for the programme as a whole. Developed around some original works by Marcel Duchamp, the idea has been to encourage contemporary artists to choose an artefact, from their body of work or studio, that best corresponds to this overall idea: laborious, minimalistic, highly personal craftsmanship that embodies thought in deed; a prized work, one that is worked on time and again, crafted out of sight, in secret, with no formal, predetermined completion; an object that is out of time, free from the dictates of fashion, that cannot be tied down to a single shape by mere spatial coordinates – a thought that has become incarnate in the brutality of matter. Curator : Guillaume Désanges. With Marcel Duchamp, Elias Crespin, Hubert Duprat, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Michel François,Ann Veronica Janssens, Irene Kopelman, Corey McCorkle, Benoît Maire, Anna Maria Maiolino, Francisco Tropa. La Verrière – Fondation Hermès 50 Boulevard de Waterloo Brussels, Belgium www.fondationdentreprisehermes.org Photographs courtesy La Verrière – Hermès.