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Marcel Duchamp

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Claudia Parent

on 21 October 2014

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Transcript of Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp
1887 - 1968
"The One Man Art Movement"
Early Paintings
Landscape at Blainville, 1902
- Heavily influenced by Impressionist & Post-Impressionist painters such as Monet, Cezanne, and Matisse
- Classical techniques & subjects
Landscape, 1911
Laundry Barge, 1910
Sur la Falaise
, 1905
- an early 20th-century style and movement in art, especially painting, in which perspective with a single viewpoint was abandoned and use was made of simple geometric shapes, interlocking planes, and, later, collage.
- an artistic movement begun in Italy in 1909 that violently rejected traditional forms so as to celebrate and incorporate into art the energy and dynamism of modern technology.
Giacomo Balla,
Abstract Speed + Sound,
Artistic Turning Point
The Large Glass
, 1915-1923
Oil, varnish, foil, wire, dust on glass, over 9" tall
Taking 8 years to finish, this monochromatic
piece is an exploration of male and female desire and the agony of separation.
3 Standard Stoppages, 1913-1914
Wood box w/ 3 threads glued to 3 painted canvas strips mounted on glass panel, 3 wood slats shaped to mimic the shape of the threads
Duchamp dropped 3-meter length threads randomly on canvas and cut the shape the thread made onto the wood slats in order to demonstrate the indeterminacy of life despite the precise measurements of the objects.
- Heavily influenced by physics, mathematics & surrealist philosophies, abandoning painting (what he referred to as "retinal" art, or art that's purely visible) by the end of 1912
- Became interested in matters of chance, randomness, and the possibilities of infinity
- Art as an exploration and documentation of these areas
- Precursor to

Fountain, 1917
Considered Duchamp's most famous piece. The urinal is placed in an unusual position, on its back rather than upright, and signed "R. Mutt." Questions what society thinks of as "proper" and "sophisticated," breaking our perceptions of constitutes fine art.
Bottle Rack, 1914
Not actually modified in any way, this is considered Duchamp's first true readymade.
Meant to be utilitarian by nature, is has now taken on a new life as a piece of sculpture to be viewed in a new light.
- Ordinary, everyday objects which Duchamp may have modified in some way or just signed his name to, objects not commonly associated with art.
- Attempted to make objects be seen for what they are and not as the maker intended.
- A common term at the time to describe objects that were manufactured as opposed to handmade.
- Meant to make us question
what is art?
A statement that to be an artist you don't actually have to
- Duchamp stated that readymades are “a form of denying the possibility of defining art."
- Paved the way for conceptual art, in which the concepts or ideas behind the work take precedence over the aesthetics.

Bicycle Wheel, 1913 (Original)
Combining these 2 mass-produced, functional objects he has created a non-practical object or machine. Originally created because he liked the look of it and enjoyed watching the wheel spin, later declared it as a readymade.
- The style and technique of art that emerged in response to the brutalities of World War I, which dadaists believed was a result of a failing social structure riddled with corruption and conformity.
The dadaist art movement focused around accidental and experimental effects and believed that the concept and message was more important than the aesthetic.
Hannah Hoch,
Cut with the Kitchen Knife,
Man Ray,
Dora Maar,
Theo van Doesburg & Kurt Schwitters,
Small Dada Evening,
Involvement in Dada
Rrose Selavy, 1921
(Photographed by Man Ray)
This photo is of Marcel Duchamp dressed up as a woman in this portrait of his pseudonym, calling into question traditional roles of men and women.
L.H.O.O.Q., 1919
A modified readymade of a postcard size Monalisa reproduction in which he hand drew a mustache and beard and signed the bottom with the letters L.H.O.O.Q., which when spoken sounds like a French phrase "Elle a chaud au cul," a pun, showing Duchamp's humor.
- Although most commonly associated with Dadaism, Duchamp maintained that "dada did not influence his work but was parallel... his own work wasn't Dada, but was made in the same spirit of it."
- How he has described Dada: "Dada is nothing... for instance, the Dadaists say that everything is nothing; nothing is good, nothing is interesting, nothing is important... but then I am in favor of Dada very much itself."
- In the spirit of much of Dadaism, Duchamp channelled his sense of humor to inspire and shape his works, it is really an essential part of most of his ouvre.
- He continued creating his Readymades and assemblage pieces into the 1920's, also getting deeper into issues of gender (See L.H.O.O.Q.).
- In 1921 he created his own female pseudonym, Rrose Selavy - also a pun, which when spoken in French reads as "Eros, c'est la vie."
Why Not Sneeze, Rrose Selavy?, 1921
A readymade sculpture, or
assisted readymade
, consisting of a birdcage filled with a mercury thermometer, 152 white marble cubes, a piece of cuttlebone, and a porcelain dish. He found it funny that the piece was deceptively heavy due to the marble, which look like sugar cubes, which are very light in comparison.
Later Career
Etant Donnes, 1946-1966
Mixed media assemblage
The exterior is of a wooden door which behind is the image above, a sculpted tableau including many materials.
- By 1923 Duchamp was no longer a practicing artist and had dedicated his life to the art of chess, earning the title of
chess master
in 1925.
- What he has said about chess: "The chess pieces are the block alphabet which shapes thoughts; and these thoughts, although making a visual design on the chess-board, express their beauty abstractly, like a poem. ... I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists."
- He still continued to have mix ins with the art world: collaborating with the Surrealists to edit their magazine, giving lectures, and he was active within literary groups.
- While his friends thought he had given up on creating art, he had secretly been working on one final piece from 1946 - 1966, a tableau called
Etant Donnes
. The piece was held in hiding with specific direction on how to assemble and disassemble and stipulations that it be shown at the Philadelphia Museum of Art only after his death.







Transition into Cubism & Controversy
Nude Descending a Staircase,
- First painting to draw criticism and
provoke controversy
- Shows mechanical motions like that of motion pictures, fragmentation of the
, and movement of the
Duchamp's Cubism phase only lasted a few years during which his paintings attracted a lot of attention for being so out of the ordinary for the majority of art at the time. His art was considered very controvercial due to its departure from reality and was criticized by most outside the art world.
La Sonate,
Yvonne and Magdeleine Torn in Tatters,
The King and Queen Traversed by Swift Nudes,
Create your own
Found Object Scupture
Take an already existing, machine manufactured, utilitarian object and alter it in some way to eliminate it's original purpose.
- You may add or subtract from the object or combine multiple objects
- May also recreate an object in order to remove a feature that will render it useless
- The object's new purpose must be made clear by either visually looking at it or physically touching or moving it

- Does the object take on a new function?
- Do you consider this art? Why or why not?
- How are art and purpose related?
Full transcript