Did Duchamp was a quack? What about contemporary artists?
Marcel Duchamp is increasingly idolized and I never understood why. Even before studying art history more seriously I had a annoying for the ready-mades. After all, how an artist can consider his masterpiece an object (an urinol!) that he even produced?
For me, it was pure quackery, but I forgot one thing: the historical context!
It was the beginning of the last century, it were different times. What Duchamp did have reason, value and recognition in his time. But his artworks and his movement are dated and that made sense only at that time. Duchamp himself said in 1961 that the urinal was a challenge that he threw to Dadaist’s critics, that art must have endurance, that his urinal hadn’t it, that it was the nothing exposed.
What I find even stranger is that Duchamp has become an art icon for nowadays artists. If the technique, the reasons and the context of Duchamp has been overcome, why do new generations still doing exactly the same as a hundred years ago?
Today it can’t be seen as innovative, creative or protestant anymore. It’s copy! Pure and simple.
If even now the works of Duchamp or Warhol need to be contextualized to be understood, it doesn’t make sense to continue producing the ready-made art. But this happens frequently today: “artists” create their work without ever having put his hand on, theirs production have no longer a concept, an engagement, do not confront, do not add anything and don’t tell us nothing. The empty postmodern artists stopped in time. Or rather, back to an era that did not belong to them. Today they make money by misleading the public by selling a meaningless art for some millions of dollars*.
“I’ll tell you what’s going to Happen: the public will keep buying more and more art, [...] and we’re all going to drown in a sea of mediocrity”
Marcel Duchamp about art in 1961.
Just now I understand what Duchamp, Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and his contemporaries were trying to tell us. It was an advice for what today affects all the spheres of our society. It was a warning against the lack of criteria to raise our idols, to choose our leaders. The lack of criteria that we acquire for our culture and for our lives. The lapse of today’s art market. Think about it.
* An example is the work “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” by Damien Hirst, a shark in formaldehyde sold in 2006 for U.S. 12,000,000.00.
Note: Months after the work began to decompose.