A New Letter from Dada & Moma-

A Surrealist Word Game?  A  Double Entendres?

In my August post, Etant donnes, Duchamp’s Homage To Her Killer?  we got to play a game. Thanks to a letter from “D.M.” we get to play anew.

We know that the relationship between William Copley, Man Ray, and Marcel Duchamp was very tight. In their book, Exquisite Corpse: Surrealism and the Black Dahlia Murder, authors, Mark Nelson and Sarah Bayliss devote an entire chapter (William Copley: Surrealist Confidant) to that closeness.

From page 141-2 Nelson/Bayliss write:

“Copley, Man Ray, and Duchamp remained close personally and professionally after Copley and Man Ray moved to France. Man Ray was the best man at Copley’s 1953 wedding to his second wife, Noma and the two men attended a costume party together as Tweedledee and Tweedledum.”

In commenting on William Copley’s 1961 oil painting, “It is Midnight Dr. ______” (shown below) the authors add:

“Copley was living in France and in frequent contact with Man Ray and Duchamp when he created this work. The painting shows a doctor surrounded by a scalpel, saws, and other tools. A reclining nude fills in the lower part of the canvas.”

Excerpt from “D.M.” e-mail dated 9.28.2009:

Dear Mr. Hodel – I have read your first book and am now nearly finished with ‘Most Evil”. They are riveting books that make my hair stand on end.   I read ‘Exquisite Corpse’ prior to the release of your latest book and found it a very compelling premise to back your findings.  There are several things that stood out to me.

4) When I first looked at the picture on page 145 of ‘Exquisite Corpse’ named ‘It is Midnight Dr._____’ by William Copley, my first thought was that the implements on the top right of the picture spelled out the name “Hodel”.  My brother told me that this was his very first impression as well.

Best Regards, 




Moma & Dada are breakfasting in the dining room, so I can use their computer for our GAME. I wonder if this is anything like what D.M. and her brother saw?  I just love to play, Don’t you?


Itsmidnightdr wm copley.jpg



  1. Lizzie on April 30, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    It does look like Hodel… Could there be any relevance to the tools themselves? The first looks like a bone hammer, a lancet (scalpel,) an amputation saw, some sort of retractor, an langenback amputation knife, and underneath some sort of plaster saw.

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