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Marcel Duchamp

Updated December 5, 2019

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Marcel Duchamp essay

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.. nt wheel from a bicycle in a type of sculpture. He mounted the wheel to a kitchen stool in effect making the first mobile sculpture. Duchamp would later name the kinetic sculptures of Alexander Calder simply as mobiles. These simple sculptures named mobiles and ready-mades were designed to make people think, to use their mind to understand art instead of only using their eyes. In early 1916 the Dada movement was born in a direct result of World War I.

This was not really even an artistic movement. To be more accurate the Dada art was more a frame of mind. This frame of mind was anti-art and, as time progressed, anti-everything else. The Dada movement was seen by conservatives as dangerous. The French almost felt as if it could have been of German or even Bolshevik origin. In any case the Dada movement started as a protest to the war which tore apart Europe.

In time Dada seemed to not only protest the war but everything else also. In the end Dada was destroyed by achieving acceptance that it could not accept. Duchamp, in the spirit of a true revolutionary and pioneer, became somewhat of a leader of the Dada period. Returning from Buenos Aries to Paris, Duchamp joined with fellow artist Picabia whom also was a prime leader of the Dada period of art.

Duchamp took no part in Dadaist demonstrations which seemed to enhanced his reputation even more in the eyes of other Dadaists. One of the more controversial and defining works of the Dada period was an assisted ready-made in which Duchamp drew a mustache and goatee to a photograph of DaVincis Mona Lisa. This, being an ideal example of Dada artwork, represented his view that art had become too precious and expensive. Once again, Duchamp had stirred the conservatives of the art world into an uproar. In 1918 Duchamp painted his first new picture after a four year absence. Duchamp produced this work, titled Tu m, for a narrow space above an admirers door in New York.

This composition depicts images of three of Duchamps ready-mades. The image depicts a bicycle wheel, a corkscrew, and a hat rack. Also a long row of overlapping colored squares stretched across the canvas. This proved to be Marcel Duchamps last formal painting on canvas.

After this frantic time in Europe Marcel returned to life in New York in early 1920. At this point in his life Duchamp began experimenting with optics and motion as well as resuming work on his masterpiece, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even. In a rather accidental discovery, Duchamp somehow found that when two spirals rotated on a common axis but somewhat off center that one appears to come forward and the other appears to move backwards producing a corkscrew effect. In 1920 Duchamp constructed something titled Revolving Glass which demonstrated this movement through the usage of five glass plates at varried lengths. Soon after Duchamps return to New York he decided that he needed a change of identity.

To meet this need of change Duchamp adopted a female alter ego known as Rrose Selavy. Duchamp even went as far as to appear in a photograph by Man Ray while wearing womens clothes. Ready-mades were also signed by this name. Two of which appeared in 1920 and 1921.

The first of the two, Fresh Widow, was a carpenters French window sample in which the panes were covered with highly polished black leather. The second, titled Why Not Sneeze, was a birdcage filled with pieces of white marble. This marble was frequently mistaken for lumps of sugar. Works like these were designed to get people to view objects in a different way in effect creating a type of new or revoloutionary thought. These were described by Duchamp as not objects only in the physical sense but also as mental objects or as brain facts. Duchamp had returned to Paris in 1923 leaving his masterpiece, The Large Glass, unfinished.

In 1924 Duchamp participated in the only performance of Relache, a ballet developed by fellow artists Picabia and Sati. During the intermission of this ballet Duchamp appeared in a short film with Picabia, Man Ray, and Sati which was formed by Picabia and Rene Clair. These two projects proved to be the last flicker of Dadaism. Marcel Duchamps parents died within a week of each other in 1925. Duchamp, who had inherited a modest sum of money, ventured into the art market purchasing a few pieces of art. In 1926 Duchamp funded a show for a sculptor he greatly admired, Brancusi.

Duchamp would later, with friend H.P. Roche, purchase a quite sizable collection of Brancusis sculptors. It is known that later in Duchamps life he would sell these sculptures if he needed money for his quite limited needs. During the rise of Surrealism time period Duchamp was considered an icon by the artists of this movement.

Although Duchamps paintings could not even be considered part of the Surrealist movement, he was championed. It was Duchamps actions which gave him the impressive reputation which was thrust upon him. Surrealist artists thought it was a most impressive move to abandon what would have been a brilliant career. Many took the saying similar to life should be lived, not painted as a defining point of their admiration for Marcel Duchamp.

By this time in Duchamps life he began to play chess more and more. He learned chess as a child and had picked it up with a passion again during the first World War. At times in the 1930s he represented his country on the French championship chess team. Duchamp had time to devote most of his time to his favorite sport for the simple fact that Duchamps only goal in his life at this time was to make it through, to break even. In June of 1942 Duchamp moved back to what was to be his home for the remained of his life, New York. Like most other artists whom moved away from France at this time, Duchamp left to escape horrors of the war.

Duchamp, whom never enjoyed the art factory in Paris, enjoyed life in New York. Duchamps New York residence, a small studio at 210 West 14th Street, had no phones. Although Duchamp was not producing much art at this time he was not out of the scene. Shortly after his arrival in New York Marcel, along with Andre Breton, executed a Surrealist exhibition for the benefit of French children and war prisoners in the old Villard mansion on Madison Avenue.

Also Duchamp found joy in promoting the careers of young artists in effect helping to develop modern art. What little art that Duchamp did at this period consisted of one certain picture which was made for the cover of the March 1943 issue of VVV which was founded by Andre Breton and Max Ernst. The picture, entitled George Washington, showed our first president in a bandage gauze, covered in stars and bloodstains. This picture, which was funded by Vogue, was rejected. During this same period Duchamp was becoming quite popular with many American art students and artists alike.

In 1945 the Yale University Art Gallery hosted an exhibition of the three Duchamp brothers. If that was not enough to heighten Marcels reputation, the art-literary magazine View devoted a whole issue to articles dealing with Duchamp and all of his accomplishments. Duchamps reputation was starting to transform from a revolutionary artist to a legendary one. After the war most of the European artists whom were exiled in the United States returned to their native countries. When faced with the question of moving back to France or not Duchamp opted to stay in New York where he later became an American citizen in 1955. He felt that in Europe, artists considered themselves grandsons of earlier artists which hindered new and revolutionary ideas.

He believed Americans could care less about the history of art, in effect making America a better place for new developments. Marcel must have been wrong in this aspect for future young American innovators would come to considered themselves as grandsons of Marcel Duchamp. In the 1963 Duchamp exhibition at the Pasadena Art Museum effectively canonized Duchamp as a patron saint of modern art. While living in New York, once again Duchamp played chess, but only on a pleasurable level. He married for the second time in 1958 to Alexina Sattler, a woman known throughout the art world simply as Teeny. Together they apparently lived a extremely happy life making residence in a West 10th Street New York apartment.

Marcel ventured to art gatherings from time to time but had no desire to return to its production. In fact Duchamp was offered $10,000 per year by an art dealer named Ronald Knoedler if he would paint a single painting each year. Although Duchamp was quite able to perform this task he replied to the offer by saying that he had accomplished what he set out to do and was not interested in repeating it. What he was concerned with the survival of his ideas, not the reproduction of them.

In hindsight, one could never be able to classify Duchamp effectively into any single art category other than revolutionary and innovator. Duchamp lived his life on his own terms. He kept his independence from the arts. Duchamp refused to be dictated as to what would be incorporated into his art.

Like many great artistic innovators, Duchamp became famous and even a legend from art that the critics of the time called absurd and pathetic. When Marcel Duchamp died in 1968 it could be said that the Frenchmans independence was his most enduring work of art. BIBLIOGRAPHY Bailly, Jene-Cristophe. Duchamp.

New York: Universe Books, 1986. Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia. vol. 8. USA: Funk and Wagnalls Inc., 1986. Schwarz, Arturo.

Marcel Duchamp 66 Creative Years. Milan: Gallery Schwarz, 1972. Tomkins, Calvin. The World of Marcel Duchamp. New York: Time.

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