Influenced by Picasso’s Cubism With Picasso the subject is seen from different points of view. Here the subject is depicted in motion.
He was influenced by the photographs of Muybridge. Muybridge was interested in using photography to show the figure in motion.
Here is a strobe light photo of Duchamp descending a staircase. It was made years after the painting to illustrate his intention.
The painting was rejected by Cubists because it used cubism for a different purpose. Duchamp then rejected cubism. He would soon reject all established styles.
This work was shown at the famous Armory show of 1913 in New York. The show showcased modern art to America. The press had a field-day criticizing the work. They called it an “explosion in a shingle factory.”
Dada Dada is a movement, not a style. It began as a reaction to middle-class values, and the insanity of WWI. It began as a literary movement, but soon included the other arts. It is meant to shock, and resulted in works that are irrational, confrontational, and even absurd.
Dada Dada is based on chance, and not reason or emotion like the art styles that came before it. Dada is anti-art, anti-beauty, anti-form, and anti-traditional. Duchamp became the unofficial leader of Dada in the visual arts. His work provokes the viewer to ask the question: “what is art?”.
Dada In Duchamp’s work the idea is more important than the product, or even the process.
Bicycle Wheel, Dada, 1913
Readymade An industrial, mass produced object that is exhibited as art. It is not a new object but on for which a new idea has been created.
According to Duchamp’s theory an artist needed to do two things to an object in order to make art. 1.Change its context. 2.Displace its function.
Duchamp said he created it for his own amusement. It is art that moves. It is also interactive. It is similar to objects used to demonstrate laws of physics: 1.angular momentum 2.Centrifugal force
Duchamp studied physics as a hobby while working in a library.
Bottle Rack, 1914
This was an ordinary rack (mass produced) for drying bottles. It became art when he chose it. He put it in his studio then in a gallery (changed its context). He didn’t use it to dry bottles (displaced its function).
Bottle Rack, 1914 This is a ready-made. By choosing it, imagining it as art, and showing it in an exhibition, it became art. He even chose it randomly (Dada).
In advance of Broken Arm, 1915 The title suggests something disabling and mysterious. Duchamp created a new idea for a banal object. The idea helps to make it art. There is no skill or technique involved.
Fountain, 1917 The subject is really Aesthetics. Aesthetics is the philosophy of art and beauty. Duchamp wants the viewer to look at it and consider what art really is.
The title reverses the function of the object. He signed it, as artists often do to their work, for the purpose of authentication. In doing so he is mocking the traditions & practices of artists. This is what an iconoclast does.
He submitted the work to an unjuried show. Unjuried means all work submitted to a show are hung without judgement about quality or taste. The group hanging the show (Society for Independent Artists) considered it too shocking & distasteful to hang.
Fountain – exhibited under the pseudonym R. Mutt Duchamp defended the piece in the magazine The Blind Man, (which he edited), with these words: "Whether Mr. Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He chose. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under a new title and point of view...[creating] a new thought for that object."
L.H.O.O.Q,1919 Pronounced in French the title of the work phonetically makes a joke out of Da Vinci’s masterpiece.
L.H.O.O.Q was a direct attack on Renaissance art, and the standards and conventions it represented. He put a moustache on the Mona Lisa. Like a vandal he attacks traditional views of art and beauty. This is exactly the kind of thing an iconoclast does.
Young Man and Girl in Spring Duchamp 1911
Three Standard Stoppages Duchamp dropped three threads, each a meter long, on to the same number of Prussian blue pieces of canvas. Then they were stuck to the surfaces without any adjustments to the curves that were determined by chance. He then cut up the cloth and stuck it to glass plates, finally encasing them in a wooden box. Three wooden "rulers," cut following the same curves, were then added. (Ramirez 35)
The objects were meant to mock standards. His work pokes fun at the standard meter, an actual object, kept in the International Office of Measurements and Weights in Paris.
Duchamp said that 3 Standard Stoppages opened the way "to escape from those traditional methods of expression long associated with art.” Duchamp called most art “retinal painting" - art designed for the luxuriance of the eye. Retinal painting required formal intelligence and a skillful hand on the part of the artist. The Stoppages depended on chance which, paradoxically, they "standardized."
Network of Stoppages, 1914
The work is created with chance and random acts. The Fauvist painting Young Man and Girl in Spring, 1911 is cropped with black paint. The artist then uses the tracings of Three Standard Stoppages to create a network of lines. He numbers the lines. In doing so he creates a new work by incorporating two old ones. This work was also used to plan a future work. It contains a scale plan for Large Glass.
The Large Glass, The work is painted on glass. Because the work is transparent it incorporates the real world. It was broken during shipment. Duchamp was not upset; he considered this random chance event the finishing touch.