The artist Marcel Duchamp — 1/27/23

From Delancey Place:

“Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), the younger brother of the sculptor Duchamp-Villon, was perhaps the most stimulating intellectual to be concerned with the visual arts in the twentieth century — ironic, witty and penetrating. He was also a born anarchist. Like his brother, he began (after some exploratory years in various current styles) with a dynamic Futurist version of Cubism, of which his painting Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 is the best known example. It caused a scandal at the famous Armory Show of modern art in New York in 1913. Duchamp’s ready-mades are everyday manufactured objects converted into works of art simply by the artist’s act of choosing them. Duchamp did nothing to them except present them for contemplation as ‘art’. They represent in many ways the most iconoclastic gesture that any artist has ever made — a gesture of total rejection and revolt against accepted artistic canons. For by reducing the creative act simply to one of choice ‘ready-mades’ discredit the ‘work of art’ and the taste, skill, craftsmanship — not to mention any higher artistic values — that it traditionally embodies. Duchamp insisted again and again that his ‘choice of these ready-mades was never dictated by an aesthetic delectation. The choice was based on a reaction of visual indifference, with at the same time a total absence of good or bad taste, in fact a complete anaesthesia.’

More here.