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Marcel Duchamp. The Readymades.

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marcel duchamp

Marcel Duchamp

The Readymades

slide2
“I wanted to get away from the physical aspect of painting. I was much more interested in recreating ideas in painting. For me the title was very important. I was interested in making painting serve my purposes, & in getting away from the physicality of painting…I was interested in ideas—not merely in visual products. I wanted to put painting once again at the service of the mind.”
readymades what are they
Readymades: What are they?
  • Commonplace prefabricated objects, isolated from their functional context & with or without alteration, elevated to the status of art by a mere act of declaration.
  • Assisted Readymades: Bicycle Wheel, Fountain
  • Rectified Readymades: Pharmacy, LHOOQ
  • Semi Readymade: With Hidden Noise, Why Not Sneeze?
  • Imitated Rectified Readymade: Tzank Check, Monte Carlo Bond
  • Printed Readymade: The
slide4

“The choice of these readymades was never based in aesthetic enjoyment. This choice was always based on a reaction of visual indifference as well as on a total absence of god or bad taste….Finally [there is] a complete anesthesia.” MD

  • Regarding the Fountain, Duchamp suggested that in order to function a readymade requires not one but two interventions.
  • The utilitarian object that the artist has isolated must be taken away from its usual space—the space that gave it meaning & marked it as a utensil &
  • It must be transported to a cultural site, a space that this time consecrates it with an aesthetic character.
  • As a displacedobject in a new setting, the readymade acquires its effect, its “magic” from the setting in which it is placed & that surrounds it, which then becomes a constituent part of its being. Thus the readymade can be seen as an extension & the development of collage, which presented itself as the insertion of the outside world into a defined space.
why then isn t everything art duchamp s own criteria
Why then isn’t everything ART?Duchamp’s own criteria:
  • Limit the numb. Of rdymades/yearly(?)
  • There must be] a total absence of good or bad taste.
  • “Don’t try too hard to understand [the inscriptions in the Romantic or Impressionist or Cubist sense; that does not have any connection with it.”
the bicycle wheel 1913 replicas assisted readymades bicycle rim mounted on wood stool
The Bicycle Wheel, 1913replicas: assisted readymades: bicycle rim mounted on wood stool
  • 1st bicycle wheel was lost or destroyed
  • “To see the wheel turning was very soothing, very comforting,…I enjoyed looking at it, just as I enjoy looking at the flames dancing in a fireplace.”
  • “Can one make works which are not works of ‘art’?” 1913
bottle rack 1914 replicas metal bottle racks
Bottle rack, 1914replicas: metal bottle racks
  • 1st pure or “unassisted readymade”
  • Original eventually lost or discarded
  • From the Grande Bazar de l’Hotel-de-Ville, Duchamp purchased an ordinary bottle dryer
  • 5 tiers, 50 projecting spokes
  • Invited Suzanne to add an inscription at the base of the bottle rack which he stipulated should be written “in small letters painted with an oil-painting brush, in silver-white color.” Only adding the inscription should she sign the work, which should read: “[after] Marcel Duchamp” [a readymade from a distance]
slide8
“The idea of contemplation disappears completely. Simply note that it was a bottle rack which changed its destination.”
  • Although Duchamp claimed the readymades were selected with the intention of avoiding taste, he confessed that with the passage of time, it was inevitable that their familiar appearance would result in causing them to acquire certain aesthetic qualities. “I will keep something around for a long time [like the Bottle rack] then to my horror, it starts looking beautiful. Out it goes! That damned “hedgehog” has become a great trial. It has begin to look too good.”
in advance of the broken arm 1915 readymade snow shovel
In Advance of the Broken Arm, 1915readymade: snow shovel
  • Original lost
  • Accompanied by Jean Crotti, MD went into a hardware store on Columbus Ave. & 67th St. & purchased an ordinary snow shovel. “Crotti was very enthusiastic about it.”
  • He explained that the selction was not easy because he wanted something that , in its design, exhibited no obviouos aesthetic qualities (neither pleasing nor displeasing) &, such items are not as common as we might assume.
  • MD took it back to his studio & inscribed it along the handle: “In Advance of the Broken Arm” & signed it “[after] Marcel Duchamp.
  • The word “after” was meant as a qualifier, to emphasize the fact that his work had come from him (as in from his intellect) rather than indicate it had been made by him.
with hidden noise 1916 readymade metal twine
With Hidden Noise, 1916Readymade: Metal & twine
  • A ball of twine secured by 4 long bolts between 2 brass plates
  • Arensberg put something secret—hidden---into the ball of twine so that object makes a mysterious sound when shaken
  • On surface of brass plates MD painted a series of uncompleted French & English words, their missing letters-represented by points- to be determined by MD’s instructions: “Replace each point by a letter/Suitably selected from the same column.”
tu m 1918 oil on canvas with long brush attached
Tu m’ 1918Oil on canvas with long brush attached
  • Commission from K. Drier to paint a long rectangular composition to fill the area above a series of bookcases in her apt library
  • 6-7 months to complete
  • Reps a visual summation of MD’s earlier work
  • Shadowy projections of 3 earlier readymades; 3 measuring devices from Large Glass
  • Professional sign painter inserted image of hand pointing [A. Klang signed]
  • trompe l’oeil details: Bolt & tear; 3 actual safety pins
  • Yvonne Crotti painted series of perspectivally receding square color samples
  • “I have never liked it because it is too decorative…summarizing one’s works in a painting is not a very attractive form of activity.” MD
  • Tu m’ suggests the French expression tu m’ennuies=“you bore me” or
  • Tu m’emmerdes=harsher expression [merde]
fresh widow 1920
Fresh Widow, 1920
  • 1st work to bear signature of Rose Selavy
  • MD had a carpenter in NY construct a miniature replica of a standard French-style window
  • MD then covered each pane of glass with a panel of black patent leather
  • Result is a frustrating visual obstruction that may have been designed to refer to MD’s recent abandonment of painting
  • Since the Renaissance, the picture plane had been described as a glass plane or window opening the passage of sight from the eyes & the leather obstructs the visual rays & denies the possibility of perspective—or painting thus the pun goes beyond the obvious word play of French window but may also mean “Fresh (recent) widow”
what do the readymades tell us about art
What do the Readymades tell us about Art?
  • By taking the artist’s arbitrariness to its extreme, by refusing any personal intervention to the object, Duchamp revealed in full light the decisive role of the socio-cultural institution: frame, altarpiece, church, palace, museum, gallery, collection, worship, political device. It is the institution that names the object, that whether or not it is art, that gives it meaning—a meaning that can be reduced to the status of a luxury possession.
  • Duchamp threw into question the concept of uniqueness & originality in art Tu m’, an issue challenged by the readymades.
how did marcel duchamp later feel
How did Marcel Duchamp later feel?

“When I discovered the readymades, I hoped to discourage the carnival of aestheticism. But the Neo-Dadaists use the readymades to find out their aesthetic value. I threw the Bottle Rack & the urinal in their face as provocations, & now they are admiring their aesthetic beauty!”

sherrie levine s fountain after marcel duchamp 1991
Sherrie Levine's Fountain(After Marcel Duchamp), 1991.
  • brass, 12 3/4 x 14 1/2 x 24 3/4", 1991
  • The form of MD’s ready-made urinal is cast in brass, wryly underscoring its preciousness, and tipped over to make it suggest the shape of a womb. [Humorous or confrontational often both]
sherrie levine fountain after marcel duchamp 1991
Sherrie Levine Fountain (After Marcel Duchamp, 1991

The Semiotic Anti-Subject (Donald Kuspit)

  • What is postmodernism? There are all too many definitions, all agreeing on only one thing: something has changed, socioartistically as well as esthetically. In general, postmodernism involves a sense of déjà vu -- a cynical sense of having seen it all, epitomized by Roland Barthes's notion of the "already read, seen, done, experienced," which reduces it to the fragment of a discourse -- a bit of text that is a link in a chain of language, itself a dictionary of themes, as he says in S/Z.
robert gober untitled 2000
Robert Gober. Untitled, 2000
  • Plaster,beeswax,humanhair,cotton,leather,aluminum,enamel paint
  • 85×101×63
assignment for monday
Assignment for Monday:
  • You are to produce a Readymade according to Marcel Duchamp’s ideas & limitations. Then write a paragraph explaining its connections to Duchamp. You will present these to the class on Monday
  • There must be a total absence of good or bad taste
  • Read “Apropos of Readymades”-see links