This artist thought he was exalting the value/importance of the conjunctural, the fleeting and the contemporary.
Marcel Duchamp (born Marcele Duchampsonis on the 28th of July 1887 in Blainville-Crevon, France) seems to think art is created solely by the will of the “artist”. He dismisses the need of form, preparation or even talent.
Incredibly…to me…a significant number of supposed art historians consider him the most important artist of the XXth Century. This accreditation, naturally, began in the 1960’s.
André Breton said he was the most intelligent man of the century. And this is what Marcel Duchamp said of Breton:
“I never met a man with a greater capacity to love, or with a greater power to love the greatness of life and whose hatreds would not be understood because through them he protected the quality of his love of life, of the marvels of life. Breton loved like a beating heart. He was a lover of love in a world that believes in prostitution. That is his sign.” Marcel Duchamp
Marcel’s “art” was mostly composed of “ready-made” materials. However, his attitude towards art continue to heavily influence the newer tendencies within contemporary art today.
So what is his style? What is his tendency? To which school of art does he belong? He doesn’t. He does not belong to any school and has no style except for uniqueness. He has broken all the norms, rules, aesthetics and forms that existed in his day and if he were still here he would continue to do the same. He is considered to be the precursor to some of the more extreme and radical aspects of the evolution of art since 1945.
A little background on this artist:
In 1904 he took the entrance test to the École des Beaux-Arts and failed to gain admission. He registered instead at a private school, the Académie Julian, a school he quickly skipped out of preferring the night life at the local bars where he would sketch scenes of “real life”. He did his military service in Eu and returned to Paris in 1906. He began to paint in the fauvist style as of 1908. Then, and for some time, supposedly under the influence of Cézanne, he painted portraits, the most important of which was a psychological portrait of his father. However, even if he did demonstrate some talent in his early paintings, he painted very few of them in comparison with other artists.
On the 2nd of April 1915 he tells his friends in France that he was “totally decided” about leaving France. He said in a letter that he was “not going to New York, I am leaving Paris, which is different”. On the 15th of June he was on the transatlantic ship Rochambeau en route to New York. He dedicated his first few months in Manhattan to learning English and earning a living teaching French, but he did not paint. Two months later he had gained employment at the FIAF French Institute Alliance Française of New York.
In 1917 the Independent Artists Society is founded in New York, imitating the Salon des Indépendants of Paris. Their mission was to mount expos without juries or prizes. They were very successful and within two weeks they had six hundred members and Duchamp was named the charge of selection of artists and their work. He decided that the works would be exhibited in alphabetical order according to the artist’s last name. 2.125 works were exhibited corresponding to 1.200 artists, making this the largest expo in the history of the United States. Duchamp inserted his work under the pseudonym R. MUTT.
And what was that work of art that Duchamp submitted? It was a urinal that he had bought and on the which he had painted the name R. MUTT. The organisers refused to accept the entry and Duchamp resigned. However, the urinal was exhibited at Galery 291 (was an art gallery located at 291 5th Ave., Manhattan) where it was photographed. The original urinal disappeared, and no one really knows why it was even submitted to the exhibition by Duchamp. It could have been a provocative act of cynicism directed at those within the Institute who took themselves much too seriously.
What makes the urinal a work of art was because it was selected by the artist Marcel Duchamp. Fifty years after the fact Duchamp said he had tossed a urinal in their faces and now they admire it for its beauty and aesthetic. He is a genius and a very intelligent man, I must admit.
I am just going to add that in 1917 he did meet and befriend another “great” artists, Joan Miró in Barcelona. As an aside, I’ve nothing good to say about the “artwork” of Joan Miró, although nothing against the man who I do consider to be a most intelligent one as well. After all he has made many believe he is a great artist when he was, in fact, a talent-less man.
So reference Duchamp, I will jump to 1968 and say that he died in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France.
Here is the urinal, and since there is really nothing more to illustrate there will be no companion video. Hope you liked the post and hope you tell me what you think. Are you an admirer? Do you really think he is such a great artist? Tell me. All I have to say is that I do admire him, not for his art but for his philosophy, his sense of humour and his wit. If you are a fan of this type of art I would suggest you read up on this tendency which is called the “ready made”. There are many articles and information online to be found.