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Beatrice Wood

Beatrice Wood (March 3, 1893 – March 12, 1998) was an American artist and studio potter involved in the Avant Garde movement in the United States; she founded and edited The Blind Man and Rongwrong magazines in New York City with French artist Marcel Duchamp and writer Henri-Pierre Roché in 1917. She had earlier studied art and theater in Paris, and was working in New York as an actress. She later worked at sculpture and pottery. Wood was characterized as the "Mama of Dada".

She partially inspired the character of Rose DeWitt Bukater in James Cameron's 1997 film, Titanic after the director read Wood's autobiography while developing the film. Beatrice Wood died nine days after her 105th birthday in Ojai, California.

Beatrice Wood was born in San Francisco, California, the daughter of wealthy socialites. After the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, the family moved to New York. Despite her parents' strong opposition, Wood insisted on pursuing a career in the arts. Eventually her parents agreed to let her study painting. Because she was fluent in French, they sent her to Paris, where she studied acting at the Comédie-Française and art at the prestigious Académie Julian.

The onset of World War I forced Wood to return to the United States. She continued acting with a French Repertory Company in New York City, performing more than sixty roles in two years. She worked for several years performing on the stage.

Wood's involvement in the Avant Garde began with her introduction to Marcel Duchamp. He and his friend Henri-Pierre Roché, a man fourteen years her senior, met her in New York in 1916 while she was visiting the composer Edgard Varèse, who was hospitalized with a broken leg. The three worked together to create The Blind Man and subsequently Rongwrong, magazines that were two of the earliest manifestations of the Dada art movement in the United States. The publication was intended to defend the submission of a urinal by Duchamp who had submitted it under the name R. Mutt to the First Exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in April 1917. Wood wrote the oft-quoted statement that appeared in the publication as an unsigned editorial: "As for plumbing, that is absurd. The only works of art America has given are her plumbing and her bridges." Wood also submitted to the exhibition and her piece 'Un peu d'eau dans du savon', which she had made alongside Duchamp in his studio, was accepted and was displayed. The work was the image of a nude female figure rising from her bath, but because Wood attached an actual piece of soap to what she called the "tactical position", the work drew a great deal of attention and critical reaction.

Though she was most involved with Roché, the two often spent time with Duchamp, creating a kind of love triangle. Since the late 20th century, biographies of Wood have associated Roché's 1956 novel Jules et Jim (and the 1962 film adaptation), with the relationship among Duchamp, Wood, and Roché. Other sources link their triangle to Roché's unfinished novel, Victor.

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Beatrice Wood Artworks
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