Thursday, May 23, 2019

Marcel Duchamp

This website does an excellent job of describing what a “readymade” is and how it pertains to Duchamp’s artistic philosophy. Readymades contest the notion that art has to be beautiful and that artists have to create everything by their own hand. gives a detailed overview of Duchamp’s life, philosophy, artworks, and how his art applies to the Dada movement in the 1910s-1920s. Duchamp integrated a sense of “umor” into his work and had an awareness of what it meant to create satirical pieces: cited within the website, a Guardian article states that Duchamp’s “dictionary” includes “Artist, Bicycle Wheel, Breasts, Cheese, and Chess” among others.

The Art Story discusses the life of Duchamp and how his art was influential to Dada as well as art, as a whole, in the 20th century. Pieces such as Nude Descending A Staircase, Fountain, and L.H.O.O.Q are presented as some of his most important works. 

Marcel Duchamp’s work is especially compelling due to the fact that it subverts every expectation of classical artistic practice. Duchamp took what the art world desired and turned it on its head: artists were expected to create all their own works and have them be traditionally beautiful. They way in which Duchamp interpreted this expectation is especially interesting due to the fact that it had never been seen before. Creating art from “readymade” objects such as urinals and bicycle wheels, Duchamp thought about what it meant for art to actually be art. Other artists, such as Man Ray, took inspiration from this: Ray created Gift and Object to Be Destroyed and based them on the philosophy that art did not have to be classically beautiful but rather aesthetically pleasing. In an increasingly technological world, Duchamp and the Dadaists, including but not limited to Tristan Tzara, Salvador Dali, and RenĂ© Magritte, were inspired by absurdity of World War I and created reactionary art that displayed their discontent with modern warfare. This posed many questions that the art world was not prepared to answer. Where does art fit into modern society? Are artists responsible for their own work and its interpretations? Duchamp sought to answer these questions through his work.