Saturday, July 07, 2007

Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp

It's summer art reading time again! Do you all have your Oprah, I mean, Detroitarts book club readings yet - hahaha. There is something for me so escapist about sitting outside with a good biography to make me want to forget about responsibility and you know, life.

So, I decided to read Duchamp partially because of my own humorous and sometimes anything but serious take on artwork or the art world for that matter, and wanted to examine one of the founders of the anti-art movement. In reading the dialogues, I can't believe how much Duchamp begins to detest painting and for that time, I can't believe how progressive his ideas were! I figured if I keep being drawn to sculptors like Isa Genzken and going to shows of placed objects and contemporary takes on the readymade, it would serve as interesting and informative reading. It's actually funny because in reading/analyzing the history of Duchamp, it contradicts his fickle sometimes lazy or "by chance" art practice and also his avoidance of museums, gallery shows and openings.
Here are a few funny or interesting things I have read so far. I definitely recommend this for reading, especially for many recent CCS sculpture grads.

Cabanne: When you were young, didn't you ever experience the desire to be artistically cultured?
Duchamp: Maybe, but it was a very mediocre desire. I would have wanted to work, but deep down I'm enormously lazy. I liked living, breathing, better than working.
Cabanne: In "The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even" what does the word "even" mean?
Duchamp: Titles in general interested me a lot. At that time, I was becoming literary. Words interested me; and the bringing together of words to which I added a comma and "even," an adverb which makes no sense, since it relates to nothing in the picture or title. Thus it was an adverb in the most beautiful demonstration of adverbness. It has no meaning.
Cabanne: How did you come to choose a mass-produced object, a "readymade," to make a work of art?
Duchamp: Please note that I didn't want to make a work of art out of it. The word "readymade" did not appear until 1915, when I went to the United States. It was an interesting word, but when I put a bicycle wheel on a stool, the fork down, there was no idea of a "readymade," or anything else. It was just a distraction. I didn't have any special reason to do it, or any intention of showing it, or describing anything. No, nothing like all that...
Duchamp: I think painting dies, you understand. After forty or fifty years a picture dies, because its freshness disappears. Sculpture also dies. This is my own hobbyhorse, which no one accepts, but I don't mind.
Duchamp: I believe very strongly in the "medium" aspect of the artist. The artist makes something, then one day, he is recognized by the intervention of the public, of the spectator; so later he goes on to posterity. You can't stop that, because, in brief, it's a product of two poles - there's the pole of the one who makes the work, and the pole of the one who looks at it. I give the latter as much importance as the one who makes it.

And I think this quote by Dali in the forward is worth noting:

"In Paris, in the early days, there were 17 persons who understood the "readymades" - the very rare readymades by Marcel Duchamp. Nowadays there are 17 million who understand them, and that one day when all objects that exist are considered readmades, there will be no readymades at all. Then Originality will become the artistic Work, produced convulsively by the artist by hand."


Blogger Todd Camplin said...

I'm reading "The Artist's Reality Philosophies of Art," by Mark Rothko.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Mark Creegan said...

"Dialogues.." is a great read. These ideas are in my blood i tell you.
The summer read I am enjoying is the bio on Felix Gonzalez Torres edited by Julie Ault. Here be the link:

Good to see that uber-clever Cary Liebowitz piece again!

Hope ya didnt get chiggers camping like my wife had recently.

12:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm reading A QUESTION OF LOYALTY, about the court-martial of Billy Mitchell.

Nothing to do with art.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Ashley Androgyny said...

Mark Creegan: These ideas are in my blood I tell you.

AA: I thought you said, "These are my blood ideas, I tell you."

3:05 AM  

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