Marcel Duchamp – the main provocateur of the 20th century, who sold the urinal several times as a fountain


    Marcel Duchamp – the main provocateur of the 20th century, who sold the urinal several times as a fountain

    135 years since the birth of the French artist Marcel Duchamp, the founder of the ready-made art direction and the father of the modern art. His most famous work, The Fountain, was not accidentally put in the first place by the leaders of the art market – a lot of things “leaked” out of it in the twentieth century. Opinion.

    July 28 marked the 125th anniversary of the birth of Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), an artist, chess player, intellectual, brawler and provocateur. Thanks to the exceptional originality of his ironic ideas, Duchamp became one of the most influential figures in the art of the 20th century. He identified such art trends as American expressive abstract art, pop art, minimalism, conceptual art.

    In 2004, the prominent Daily Telegraph newspaper conducted a survey among the leaders of the British art market. 500 artists, dealers, critics, gallery owners formed the top 5 works of the 20th century that had the greatest impact on the further development of world art.

    Here is the list.

    Top 5 works of the 20th century that had the greatest impact on the development of world art

    1. Marcel Duchamp. “Fountain”.
    2. Pablo Picasso. “Girls of Avignon”.
    3. Andy Warhol. Diptych “Marilyn”.
    4. Pablo Picasso. “Guernica”.
    5. Henri Matisse. “Red Room”.

    Marcel Duchamp's “Fountain” is a porcelain urinal exhibited in the United States in 1917, which gave rise to the art of the ready-made (“finished thing”). Focuswill try to explain how the urinal came to be at the pinnacle of twentieth-century art.

    Marcel Duchamp – the main provocateur of the 20th century, who sold the urinal several times as a fountain

    Marcel Duchamp was born on July 28, 1887 in Normandy, France, the fourth of seven children of Lucy and Eugene Duchamp. Father is a notary, grandfather is an engraver, mother is an artist. Two older brothers and a sister also went into art. The father and brothers supported their son's artistic career. But Marcel also showed an ability for mathematics, which resulted in a passion for chess – he became a professional grandmaster.

    Marcel Duchamp, master of the ironic shifter

    After moving to Paris, Duchamp began to earn money by caricatures in newspapers, where the comedic effect was often based on a witty play on words – puns (as it is now, however) – Duchamp will apply this technique in the field of art.

    Marcel gets acquainted with cubists and future Dadaists, is friends with the poet and art critic Guillaume Apollinaire, who called Duchamp's early works “ugly-naked”. I meant the painting “Nude descending the stairs (No. 2)”.

    The picture caused the first scandal in the life of Marcel Duchamp, but not the last. Duchamp only depicted a naked girl in several projections, as is done in drawings on theoretical mechanics: the girl walked up the stairs and at the end fell (there are such versions of this picture).

    However, in painting it looked like a “brutal” avant-garde even for art revolutionaries. The organizers of the Salon, where “Nude” was exhibited, asked the artist's older brothers to convince him to remove the canvas from the exhibition. Duchamp, gritting his teeth, took the “Nude” from the wall and took him home in a taxi. But soon the “infamous” painting was taken to the “Arsenal” exhibition – and our artist became famous. But since then, he will always ask questions: what can be considered art and who has the privilege to decide it?

    Marcel Duchamp – the main provocateur of the 20th century, who sold the urinal several times as a fountain

    The poet Iosif Brodsky defined lyrics as an ascending metaphor – “her eyes are like turquoise”, and irony as a descending metaphor – “her eyes are like brakes”. With Duchamp, everything is in descending order, which is why the “Nude” falls down the stairs. In art, the “shift effect” is also important. This is when something low becomes high. For example, pigs and other livestock in the image of the famous Ukrainian artist Maria Primachenko become divinely beautiful on canvases – iridescent, in flowers. Duchamp in his creations also created a “shifting effect”, but ironic.

    After the rejected painting, Marcel Duchamp took up the design of installations, transferring “play on words” from caricatures to them. For example, the famous “Bicycle Wheel” installation (1913) is simply a bicycle wheel attached upside down to a stool.

    Marcel Djushan is the main provocateur of the 20th century, who several times sold the urinal as a fountain

    Now it does not “ride” on the earth, but in the heavens. About the same story happened to the legendary urinal.

    Plumbing – on a pedestal! Duchamp Circus

    With the outbreak of the First World War, Marcel Duchamp left for New York, where among the avant-garde artists they already heard about him because of the “Arsenal” exhibition.

    A new art event took place here. Duchamp bought a urinal from the store, turned it over and signed it: “R. Mutt (fool)”. According to the terms of the exhibition, the organizers were obliged to exhibit the item, because it was paid for. But the Exposition Council, which included Marcel Duchamp himself, rejected the exhibit. Protesting against this decision, Duchamp resigned from the Council. And the scandal broke out. And soon “Fountain” began to be exhibited at other expositions: although laughing, and twisting a finger at the temple, crowds of visitors flocked to stare at the “Fountain”. Let it be a circus, but I wonder what they call a fountain here. Funny!

    In 1917, in New York, the Dadaists Morton Schamberg, an American, and a German woman, Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, exhibited a photo of a water pipe with the name “God” (1917).

    Marcel Djushan – chief 20th-century provocateur who sold a urinal several times as a fountain

    This is clearly also an ironic metaphor: either a water pipe is the god of everyday life, or a hint that for the USA God is the products of industry (Schamberg was fond of the aesthetics of industry). But the futurist Mayakovsky also had about this topic: “Could you play the nocturne on the drainpipe flute?” (1913).

    As you can see, there is a connection – between one piece of plumbing and another. However, the very name of the name “ready-made art” (ready-made, assembled “from improvised materials” work of art) is definitely for Duchamp. His jealous phrase about the baroness is known: Maybe she invented the readymade, but it was I who turned the children's prank into an anti-art philosophy.”

    Marcel Duchamp – the main provocateur of the 20th century, who several times sold the urinal as a fountain

    Duchamp did the same with the “Mona Lisa”, just adding in 1919 to the heroine of the most famous picture of the world … goatee and moustache and naming “modified readymade” L. H. O. O. Q. In French, this stands for “She has hot between her legs.” The blasphemer!

    Marcel Duchamp – the main provocateur of the 20th century, who sold the urinal several times as a fountain

    Circulation is limited. How many “Fountains” does Duchamp have?

    Duchamp will periodically live in New York, then in Paris. The first reproduction of “Fountain” was made by Duchamp in 1950, later also in 1953 and 1963. There are four original ones, like four “Black Squares” by Malevich, and now there are twenty “Fountains” in total – other artists have tried. Naturally, for very good sums.

    When Duchamp had already managed to become part of the history of art, various world museums ordered him replicas of one or another of his ready-mades. At the core are mass-produced things, which, of course, have always been ironic metaphors. When asked what, besides the context, makes these things special, Duchamp replied: “They bear my signature, and there are a limited number of them.”

    It is worth talking about Duchamp's involvement in the emergence of an artistic style – American expressive abstract art. It is also based on thinking based on ironic paradoxes. Not love or any other feeling, but the invention of ideas. Surrealist André Breton emphasized Duchamp's intellect and his ability to see “the core of any idea”:

    “This is the mind of those that stand at the origins of any modern movement,” Breton said about Marcel Duchamp.

    < h2>Fresco on canvas. How Marcel Duchamp helped Jackson Pollock

    The famous gallery owner Peggy Guggenheim in 1943 ordered the avant-garde artist Jackson Pollock to paint a wall in her mansion, signing a contract with him and promising to organize his solo exhibition. The wall was about 6 meters by 2.5 – almost 18 square meters. Enough work!

    Duchamp, in order to make life easier for the artist, offered to give him a canvas of such a size that he could work in the studio. And then the canvas can be transferred and resold, which is beneficial for commercial reasons. With this picture, Duchamp came up with the ironic name “Fresco” in advance. Devilish ingenuity!

    To stretch the canvas to the right size, Pollock had to destroy the wall between the two rooms. Peggy gave him complete freedom in the plot, technique and materials. But for many weeks the artist simply sat in the studio, staring at the “huge, but damn exciting” blank canvas, and slowly began to go into a binge – he liked to throw it over his collar.

    There is a version that Marcel Duchamp helped Pollock here too , advising him to simply spread the canvas on the floor and pour paint on it. So did the famous artist and designer Archil Gorki (Pollock's teacher) – he poured paint on the canvas on the floor, and when it hardened, he scratched a certain pattern on the paint layer. But Gorka's paintings were modest in size.

    Pollock, however, began not to pour, but to splatter paint on the canvas, which is why his art direction will be called “drip painting”, and Jackson Pollock himself – “sprinkler”. Thus, a new avant-garde movement was invented – American Abstract Expressionism, which became a sensation at the 1950 Venice Biennale. These works today are worth tens of millions of dollars.

    As a result, Pollock allegedly finished his Fresco in one night, running like a shaman on the canvas and splashing paint. The huge finished canvas (6.04 by 2.43 meters) did not fit in Peggy's mansion. And on the advice of the same Duchamp, it was slightly trimmed: of course, the “Fresco” did not lose any artistic quality from this – the flatness and lines throughout its entire area were the same. Since then, the gigantic size of the painting has become a hallmark of Pollock's work.

    Marcel Duchamp – the main provocateur of the 20th century, who sold the urinal several times as a fountain

    As you understand , and the king of pop art, Andy Warhol, who began to exhibit real cans of soup, as well as depict bottles of Coca-Cola, also took the essence of the idea from Marcel Duchamp.

    Only he worked in an ironic manner, and Andy Warhol, on the contrary, made a cult out of the image of mass-produced objects, inventing a pop icon in the modern sense of the word.

    I hope you understand why the leaders of the art market put “Fountain” in the first place – there are a lot of things from it “leaked out” in the twentieth century.


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