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, 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.”
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.
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.
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.
means. The linguistic dimension of his work in particular paved the way for Conceptual art.
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.
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 Fluxus, Arte Povera and Performance artists.
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.
On his attitude about art: “It is paradoxical. It is almost schizophrenic. On one side I worked from a very
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. 🙂
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
Thanks so much! And for the additional info!