May 15, 2014

"The Old Fox"


Marcel Duchamp: a system of paradox in resonance.

The man inspires the highest regard (often the love) of those who know him; the public so often regards his work as anathema. He ranks with the greatest artists of the century without any conscious concern for either greatness or specifically being an artist. None of his peers has produced or exhibited as little as he to achieve such stature. He is "a merchant of wit" who's major works are as complex as any produced in the time. It has been said: Duchamp shows it hard, but in the easiest way. 

The paradox of this characterization resolves in a word (and a pun): an-artist. Being neither "anti" nor "pro" art, he has directly and indirectly further the development of many colleagues and modern art in general, participating in movements without the need to join, warning that art can be "a habit-forming drug," and cautioning that removed from the glare and noise of today's vast art world, vital activities will go on "underground." The gentleman is truly an-artist.

As to Duchamp's achievement ("greatness"), let it be enough to say that in spite of all (and intentions, even) the depth and meaning in his work continues to unfold and seems increasingly pertinent. In his pioneering, particularly that of object art with its marriage of "things" and "linguistic concepts," he has registered an incredible number of "patents." 

Walter Hopps

[Single page document found in Norton Simon Museum archives on MD's 1963 retrospective, by or of Marcel Duchamp or Rrose Selavy; n.d.
Photograph by Julian Wasser;  © Copyright by julian Wasser.

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