This is my first blog, my first post, *my first glass of wine (today)*, and I’ve decided that Duchamp is worthy enough to rant about.
Let me begin by saying I respect Duchamp for incessantly probing of the boundaries of art during his era, causing an artist revolution. He has created a legacy of innovation and insight, which resonated in his artwork, his life, and continues still today.
Yet at the same time, I despise him.
Although right now would be a proper time to explain myself for that rather obtrusive remark, I wont just yet. I need you to first understand my perspective and thoughts on Duchamp’s over-the-top reaction to the harsh criticism regarding his artwork.
Unlike so many college students, Marcel Duchamp knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life from the get-go: comedy through art. At first he would create these Parisian cartoons that were satirical and often a bit raunchy (love it|hate it). But what truly makes these cartoons special is that they were thought out and hand-drawn; forging both time and energy towards the creation.
Marcel Duchamp, “Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2″, a piece inspired by Cubism and an unexpected impression of motion through repetitive imagery (a common element in Futurist artwork and not so much Cubist).
A year later Duchamp joined a Cubist group, and although he was hardly interested in becoming a devoted and serious cubist, his first controversial piece, Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2 was submitted to the Cubist Salon des Indépendants (a gallery for cubists to display and discuss their artwork). Sadly, once they laid their eyes on Duchamp’s piece they were less than thrilled; they demanded he remove it. Distressed and disheartened, Duchamp took his painting home in a taxi cab, and realized at that exact moment where his life was pointing; he decided to neglect all art-related movements and to create one of his own, thus becoming the Father of Dada. Now I couldn’t possibly place a finger on how it must have felt to see my innovative and revolutionary art despised by the only group I desired to unite with… though my senses draw me towards the conclusion that it was awfully disappointing. *Second glass of wine*
And onward goes the story of how Duchamp went from creating artwork to creating the movement, Dada — a movement created from despair and rejection; a world of “readymades” with lack of reason and logic, prizing nonsense. How perfect for our comedian, Duchamp! As time progressed, he became more fascinated with readymades and would often inscribe a short sentence or detail that adds onto the readymade. Duchamp’s notorious readymade, the Fountain, is not a fountain whatsoever. It’s a urinal. But that was the entire idea, he wanted to give new meaning to an object that was already labeled. He sent the Society of Independent Artists his submission fee and the Fountain for their art exhibition. No one knew Duchamp had submitted the piece and while he was searching for his piece amongst the rest of artwork, he was once again disheartened to learn that his artwork was removed (and lost) from the showing. Oops!
After having his pride destroyed a third time, Duchamp decided to “fuck it all” by making a humorous piece called L.H.O.O.Q, which is a French homophone for elle a chaud au cul, which means “She has a hot ass”.
Yes, that is the Mona Lisa with a mustache and goatee… because taking someone else’s art and altering it, in fact makes it art! I find this painting rather amusing only because it’s so obviously made out of his resentment for being criticized harshly, but he’s also insulting a well-known and highly recognized piece of art in an attempt to release his anger. Kind of immature, but his actions could be easily justified. Plus, it’s funny, so I semi-approve. *Third glass of wine* (can you keep up?).
After working steadily with readymades for about a decade, in 1926 Duchamp completely stopped making art to indulge in his lifelong passion for chess.
Okay, are you ready? Here comes the big kicker…..
After playing chess for a decade, he dies in 1968 and with his death a huge secret was released. From the time he began working with readymades to the day he died (25 years), Duchamp was secretly working on a 3D hand-painted aesthetically pleasing piece of work called, Entant Donnés.
Marcel Duchamp’s final and most secretive piece of artwork, located inside his private studio. (Front Door)
Duchamp turned his entire private studio in a piece of art that only his wife knew about. The piece presents the viewer with a massive wooden door. If you became curious enough, you would find two peepholes drilled side-by-side.
On the other side of the door is a 3D construction made entirely by Duchamp’s hands. Thats right, his final piece of art stood for everything he distrusted; his final contradiction. After he received so much disappointment from artistic movements, I was in awe to find that the very artist who courted contradiction and humor, left a piece that was his most surprising.
Marcel Duchamp, materials include: bricks, velvet, twigs, a female form made of parchment, glass, linoleum, an assortment of lights, a landscape composed of hand-painted and photographed elements and an electric motor housed in a cookie tin which rotates a perforated disc (inside room; view peering through peepholes on door).
Unlike anything Duchamp had made before, Etant Donnés contains a high degree of artistic skill, which was unforeseen coming from someone whose one true goal was to remove the hand of the artist from the creation of art.
This concludes my reasoning as to why I love|hate Marcel Duchamp. After having his pieces neglected, he stirred up an artistic revolution; artists and viewers alike could not differentiate what art was and wasn’t. On the other hand, he created an entire artistic movement that resulted in a revolution towards the ever changing concept of art, and then gifted the world with his most skillful work. But in the end, he is neither artist, victim, or chess player, but a man who sought to tear down the preconceptions surrounding the art world and boy, did he deliver.
“What I have in mind is that art may be bad, good or indifferent, but, whatever adjective is used, we must call it art, and bad art is still art in the same way that a bad emotion is still an emotion.” - Marcel Duchamp, ”The Writings of Marcel Duchamp”
*Wine Bottle: Terminated*