I forget if it was in wikipedia (an increasingly dubious source), or some where else, but Duchamp talked many years afterward about the distinction of conceptual vs. retinal art. He implied he moved toward a conceptual art, intentionally de-emphasizing craft skill in the ready mades's, while much of the rest of then contemporary art world moved toward retinal, or art that emphasised craft skill and exploration of line, color and form in various abstract and pictographic styles. He said pop and op art and photorealism, if I recall correctly, were just a rediscovery of what he had been doing and did not really advance art. If he were telling the truth, it would mean that Dada was never a very good description of what he was doing, nor was surrealism. FWIW, I think my interpretation of what he was up to makes most sense. I think he was paradoxing people with objects so that they could be freed of the straightjacket of their conditioning about what was art to experience the aesthetics of contrived objects. Paradox theory of communication as probably after his time, but it advances the same notion. Its used in commercials all the time. Paradox a viewers logic, then make a suggestion bonded to a pleasing experience and the suggestion is accepted. Me thinks he got the concept and like the obsessive artist he was, worked paradox out on many, many levels of the objects involved and then let you have the experience he wanted you to have. To say he used a urinal to call into question what art could be seems unpersuasive, because it does not capture just how different his art actually is. Artists have always called what could be art into question. Artists have not always posed a urinal as art. I will not belabor the urinal here, but suffice it to say that anyone who has ever stood over one cannot help but notice the amazing form and line. To get someone to notice it, he paradoxed them into noticing it. I suspect he was rather frustrated as an artist when people began to introduce degrees of freedom of its didactic meaning between the object and its experience, but of course, he was the grand entrapper, so I could easily be wrong. The thing with Duchamp is he was completely capable of creating a work of art that had no purpose other than entrapping the viewer by checkmating the viewers intellect. And perhaps, just perhaps, that was all any of these were.
Los Olivos, CA
> Duchamp's goal may have less to do with the casual
> beauty of found objects
> and more to do with making a point about the power
> and authority of the
> artist to declare an art function for those found
> objects. Sure that fork
> has a nice rake, and a bicycle wheel will always
> suggest something
> aesthetic, but I think Duchamp thought this generic
> assemblage was much lik
> his "Fountain" from 1917 which was merely a urinal
> labled as art. He was
> challenging our assumptions about the authority of
> the aritist and provokin
> our awareness (both playful and uncomfortable) that
> art could become less
> about the skill or craft involved and more about the
> identity and creative
> authority of the artist.
> Mitch Harris
> Little Rock Canyon, Utah
> On 3/20/06, Fred Rafael Rednor
> <email@example.com> wrote:
> > > By the way, the fork shown looks very much
> > > like a spare Schwinn Paramount fork I have,
> > > 531/Nervex with the more extreme (touring?)
> > > rake.
> > That's exactly the point. The idea of Duchamp's
> > was to make the viewer consider the inherent
> beauty in everyday
> > objects, even if they don't have the imprimatur of
> the the
> > people who claim to be the arbiters of
> taste/worthiness of
> > "salon art."
> > In this case, even someone like myself - who has
> seen and
> > examined numerous bicycle forks - was moved to
> fully appreciate
> > the lines of the fork blades and the contours of
> the fork
> > crown's cutouts. Perhaps it had the same effect
> on a view
> > other viewers.
> > Another important aspect to piece (although this
> takes us
> > off-topic) is that it is meant to be viewed at
> times with the
> > wheel in motion, or with lighting tht creates
> ditinct shadows.
> > In fact, at the current National Gallery
> exhibition, it is
> > being displayed with that sort of lighting.
> > So while you might view this thing as "just a
> truing stand",
> > please be appreciative that there are bofa-fide,
> > degreed, museum conservators/curators who are
> willing to
> > acknowledge the beauty inherent in objects that
> you too cherish
> > - i.e. mere bicycle forks.
> > That's enough from me on this,
> > Fred Rednor - Arlington, Virginia (USA)
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