The dogmatic Cubists saw nudes as being horizontal and passive, not vertical and mobile. They were disconcerted by the way Duchamp had painted a circular pattern of dots to indicate rhythmic movement and saw the large printed title at the bottom of the front of the painting as vulgar.
Having negotiated the previous year to run their own hanging committee, they demanded that Duchamp change the painting. He refused and withdrew it from the exhibition.
Although Nude Descending a Staircase was subsequently exhibited elsewhere, the scandal of this historic rejection marked him as an artist who would clash with established beliefs, whatever the situation.