Arensberg, Walter (1878–1954) By Archino, Sarah
Walter Arensberg (April 4, 1878 to January 29, 1954) and his wife, Louise Stevens Arensberg (1879–1953), were influential patrons of the avant-garde, building a collection that included modernist art, early American Shaker furniture, and non-Western objects, primarily of African and pre-Columbian origin. They collected modern art by American and European artists, with a special concentration in work by Marcel Duchamp (who also served as their art advisor) and Constantin Brancusi. Their New York apartment, at 33 West 67th Street, hosted a frequent salon of artists, writers, and intellectuals from 1915–1921. These gatherings were a focal point for the activities and antics of New York Dada. Among Arensberg’s many friendships with artists and writers, his long association with Marcel Duchamp was perhaps most influential. When Duchamp arrived in New York in 1915, Walter Pach met him at the pier and brought him directly to the Arensberg’s apartment, where Duchamp lived during the summer of 1915. Later, Arensberg paid the rent for Duchamp’s studio, located in the same building. The Arensberg Collection would amass nearly forty works by Duchamp, including The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) (1921). When Arensberg was unable to purchase the artist’s infamous Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2 (1912), he commissioned a duplicate and eventually acquired the original as well.