Day 360- Marcel Duchamp- You Cannot Define Art

It’s Day 360 and now I actually have 5 left to go.  I’ve been putting off today’s artist for a long time because he’s one of my favorites, but I was so nervous about tackling his style.  I’m glad that I waited until the tail end of my project because I feel like I’ve learned/experienced enough to mildly pull it off.  Please join me in honoring Marcel Duchamp today.

Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp

 

Marcel Duchamp, French  (July 28, 1887- October 2, 1968)

“You cannot define electricity. The same can be said of art. It is a kind of inner current in a human being, or something which needs no definition.”

Chess Players- Marcel Duchamp

Chess Players- Marcel Duchamp

Few artists can boast having changed the course of art history in the way that Marcel Duchamp did. Having assimilated the lessons of Cubism and Futurism, whose joint influence may be felt in his early paintings, he spearheaded the American Dada movement together with his friends and collaborators Picabia and Man Ray. By challenging the very notion of what is art, his first readymades sent shock waves across the art world that can still be felt today.

Duchamp’s ongoing preoccupation with the mechanisms of desire and human sexuality as well as his fondness for wordplay aligns his work with that of Surrealists, although he steadfastly refused to be affiliated with any specific artistic movement per se. In his insistence that art should be driven by ideas above all, Duchamp is generally considered to be the father of Conceptual art.
His refusal to follow a conventional artistic path, matched only by a horror of repetition which accounts for the

Parva Domus, Magna Quies - Marcel Duchamp

Parva Domus, Magna Quies – Marcel Duchamp

relatively small number of works Duchamp produced in the span of his short career, ultimately led to his withdrawal from the art world. In later years, Duchamp famously spent his time playing chess, even as he labored away in secret at his last enigmatic masterpiece, which was only unveiled after his death in 1968.

Coined by Duchamp, the term “readymade” came to designate mass-produced everyday objects taken out of their usual context and promoted to the status of artworks by the mere choice of the artist. A performative act as much as a stylistic category, the readymade had far-reaching implications for what can legitimately be considered an object of art.
Nude Descending a Staircase- Marcel Duchamp

Nude Descending a Staircase- Marcel Duchamp

Duchamp rejected purely visual or what he dubbed “retinal pleasure,” deeming it to be facile, in favor of more intellectual, concept-driven approaches to art-making and, for that matter, viewing. He remained committed, however, to the study of perspective and optics which underpins his experiments with kinetic devices, reflecting an ongoing concern with the representation of motion and machines common to Futurist and Surrealist artists at the time.

A taste for jokes, tongue-in-cheek wit and subversive humor, rife with sexual innuendoes, characterizes Duchamp’s work and makes for much of its enjoyment. He fashioned puns out of everyday expressions which he conveyed through visual

King and Queen surrounded by swift nudes - Marcel Duchamp

King and Queen surrounded by swift nudes – Marcel Duchamp

means. The linguistic dimension of his work in particular paved the way for Conceptual art.

Marcel Duchamp was raised in Normandy, in a family of artists. His father was mayor of Blainville and his mother raised their seven children and painted landscapes depicting the French countryside. Family time was spent playing chess, reading, painting, and playing music.
Fountain 1917, replica 1964 Marcel Duchamp 1887-1968 Purchased with assistance from the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1999

Fountain 1917, replica 1964 Marcel Duchamp 1887-1968 Purchased with assistance from the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1999

One of Marcel’s earliest artworks, Landscape at Blainville (1902), painted at age fifteen, reflected his family’s love of Claude Monet. Marcel was close to his two older brothers, and in 1904, after both had left home to become artists, he joined them in Paris to study painting at Académie Julian. His brother, Jacques Villon, supported him during his studies, and Marcel earned some income by working as a cartoonist. Duchamp’s early drawings evince his ongoing interest in visual and verbal puns.

After he withdrew from the art world, Duchamp remained a passive, if influential, presence in New York avant-garde circles until he was rediscovered in the 1950s by Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. Duchamp’s insistence that art should be an expression of the mind rather than the eye or the hand spoke to Minimalists and Conceptual artists alike.
It ushered in a new era summed up by Joseph Kosuth’s claim that “all art (after Duchamp) is conceptual (in

Yvonne and Magdeleine Torn in Tatters- Marcel Duchamp

Yvonne and Magdeleine Torn in Tatters- Marcel Duchamp

nature) because art only exists conceptually.” The seminal concept of the mass-produced readymade was eagerly seized upon not only by Andy Warhol and other Pop artists who claimed Duchamp as their founding father but also, owing to its performative aspects, by FluxusArte Povera and Performance artists.

Portrait of Chess Players- Marcel Duchamp

Portrait of Chess Players- Marcel Duchamp

Duchamp’s radical critique of art institutions made him a cult figure for generations of artists who, like him, refused to go down the path of a conventional, commercial artistic career.

Though his work was admired for its wide-ranging use of artistic materials and mediums, it is the theoretical thrust of Duchamp’s eclectic but relatively limited output that accounts for his growing impact on successive waves of twentieth-century avant-garde movements and individual artists who openly acknowledged his influence.

On his attitude about art: “It is paradoxical. It is almost schizophrenic. On one side I worked from a very

Portrait of Dulcinea- Marcel Duchamp

Portrait of Dulcinea- Marcel Duchamp

intellectual form of activity, and on the other de-deifying everything by more materialistic thoughts.”

On the readymade: “The readymade is the consequence of the refusal which made me say: There are so many people who make pictures with their hands, that one should end up not using the hand.”

On chess: “I am still a victim of chess. It has all the beauty of art, and much more. It cannot be commercialized. Chess is much purer than art in its social position.”

Biography is from The Art Story website.

I hope you enjoy my tribute to the great Marcel Duchamp today.  I had a surprisingly relaxing time creating it today!  I wanted to incorporate his love for chess.  I will see you tomorrow on Day 361…I’m going to try and have a relaxing rest of the day now. 🙂

Best,

Linda

Strategy- Tribute to Marcel Duchamp Linda Cleary 2014 Acrylic & Crackle paint on Canvas

Strategy- Tribute to Marcel Duchamp
Linda Cleary 2014
Acrylic & Crackle paint on Canvas

Side-View Strategy- Tribute to Marcel Duchamp Linda Cleary 2014 Acrylic & Crackle paint on Canvas

Side-View
Strategy- Tribute to Marcel Duchamp
Linda Cleary 2014
Acrylic & Crackle paint on Canvas

Close-Up 1 Strategy- Tribute to Marcel Duchamp Linda Cleary 2014 Acrylic & Crackle paint on Canvas

Close-Up 1
Strategy- Tribute to Marcel Duchamp
Linda Cleary 2014
Acrylic & Crackle paint on Canvas

Close-Up 2 Strategy- Tribute to Marcel Duchamp Linda Cleary 2014 Acrylic & Crackle paint on Canvas

Close-Up 2
Strategy- Tribute to Marcel Duchamp
Linda Cleary 2014
Acrylic & Crackle paint on Canvas

Close-Up 3 Strategy- Tribute to Marcel Duchamp Linda Cleary 2014 Acrylic & Crackle paint on Canvas

Close-Up 3
Strategy- Tribute to Marcel Duchamp
Linda Cleary 2014
Acrylic & Crackle paint on Canvas

2 thoughts on “Day 360- Marcel Duchamp- You Cannot Define Art

  1. Hi Linda, I love your tribute to Marcel Duchamp – also one of my favourite artists. His defiance of everything in the art establishment made him was the founding father of much of today’s contemporary art.
    The biography from Art Story website fails to mention any of the women who were vital to his career. The first was his sister Suzanne who was also an artist. Next was The Dada Baroness, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, who was one of Duchamp’s major collaborators in the New York Dada movement. Then there was his long term lover Mary Reynolds, who supported him throughout the Paris years when he had no income and finally was Katherine Dreier who with Duchamp founded the Société Anonyme to sponsor, exhibit and collect of modern art, much of it Duchamp’s. Hope this is of interest!
    I’ve really enjoyed following your year in painting, a brilliant project and very well done Sue G

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