Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Old notes at AOS about Duchamp

Another old bit from Ace of Spades, comments about Duchamp ...
After the First World War, allegiances to many of the artistic traditions that had survived the challenges of cubism, expressionism, impressionism, fauvism and pure abstraction were shattered by a disillusioned, cynical generation of artists who inadvertently predicted much of what makes art "suck" in the eyes of today's majority. The most brilliant of these was Marcel Duchamp, whose horny woman-and-gay da Vinci two-for-one joke LHOOQ was blogged about here earlier: Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Fountain, 1917. (photo from 1917 exhibition) Porcelain Urinal. 
Original lost, replicas at various institutions. 

Funny thing is, I have had morons comment on this piece in multiple threads, and they actually sum it up well:

Duchamp ushered in modern art by establishing the idea of "ready made" art, which fit nicely with new developments in mass manufacturing, and it was an asshole, curmudgeonly comment on the modern age, anticipating the beatniks by several decades. He was a typical French misanthrope who stated that art has nothing to do with the artist once it's on display. The viewer gets to decide whether it's art, and they can "piss off." There was always punk. 
Posted by: Tattoo De Plane
That's the idea. Or half the idea. Duchamp was the original "Art is whatever crap I put my name (or someone else's) on" guy. So when he did it, it was funny. It worked like a Don Rickles joke. If you're an art-world dink who thinks you're in on Duchamp's joke, and you're like "He's doing me! I'm in the show!" you can laugh and have a good time when he says you look like a drunk Mexican gorilla, but it's funny because you look like a drunk Mexican gorilla. 
Posted by: oblig.
Here's a thought on the Duchamp: In the novel Infinite Jest, one of the characters, a filmmaker, pulls a huge hoax on the art world. He comes up with a concept called "found drama". Basically it goes like this: You pick a name out of the phone book, and whatever that person does for the next two hours is the "drama". You don't have to know what they actually do. Just the act of designating the person is the "art". It makes a big splash in the art world, until he reveals that it's all bullshit, at which point everybody gets pissed at him. That's pretty much how I feel about "Fountain" (only Duchamp never let the cat out of the bag). 
Posted by: Farmer Joe
When Marcel Duchamp created "Fountain" in 1917 under the pseudonym "R. Mutt" as part of his "readymades", he was making a deliberate swipe at Western mainstream "fine art" traditions of elevating anything to art simply by setting it on a pedestal. Apparently, modern "artists" never quite got the joke. Posted by: The Ghost of Flannery O'Connor 

To all of the morons who had commented on it in the original threads, I will add just a bit more. Duchamp was being profound by pushing the ever-expanding boundaries of art to its inevitable conclusion- one in which the actual ability or skill of the artist is deemed irrelevant by the simple pronouncement of a given "work" as art. He geniunely believed that the declaration of art, and an audience, mattered as much if not more than the artist or his actual work. In the hands of tongue-in-cheek Duchamp, this idea is both thoughtful and comical- we can take the proposition seriously, but simultaneously laugh at its implications humorously expressed. As for the copycats and the beatniks whose "art" erronously shove themselves onto the Duchampian family tree, I simply give you Salvador Dali's reaction to them:
The first person to compare the cheeks of a young woman with a rose was plainly a poet. The second, who repeated the comparison, was probably an idiot...People have already forgotten that the founder of Dadaism, Tristan Tzara, stated in his mannifesto in the very infancy of the movements: "Dada is this, Dada is that...Either way, it's crap." This kind of more or less black humour is foreign to the new generation. They are genuinely convinced that their neo-Dadaism is subtler than the art of Praxiteles.

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