Marcel Duchamp was a French-American artist, known as one of the most influential figures who contributed to changing the course of art history in twentieth century. Working mostly in such styles as Cubism and Futurism, Duchamp was also an active member of the American Dada movement. The artist is also recognized for his original concept of readymade art, or presenting the found objects as artworks in an attempt to change the public perception of art and its esthetic value. Today Duchamp is often referred to as the father of conceptual art (Dietrich, 154). Therefore, the figure of the artist, his personality, ideas and works are worth studying. Besides these questions, the paper will also address the contemporary movements, styles of art and the influence of Duchamps ideas on the world art.
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Marcel Duchamp was born in 1887 and had an active involvement in art projects from1902 till his death in 1968. During this period, he has undertaken the most diverse activities, such as painting, sculpture and writing in various styles, which made him an expert in contemporary art. In his early training between 1901 and 1912, he acquired the basic knowledge in painting and got acquainted with the ideas of Cubism, Fauvism and impressionism, which formed the artists perception of color and shape in visual art (Honold, 25). Duchamp evinced a considerable interest in several forms of art, including painting, drawing and writing among others. The most significant work from his early ages was Nude Descending a Staircase, a painting that has become the reference point of Modernism. The other famous works of the early period include The Bride Stripped Bare and The Glass. Humor played a key role in Marcel Duchamps artworks (“Marcel Duchamp”). In his early sketches, Duchamp uses cartoons and unconventional media to create hilarious images; these drawings were sold to newspapers and magazines publishers. Notably, many of Duchamps works were unfinished on purpose. The idea of leaving an artwork unfinished has become one of the tools used in art and design (“Working On The Mona Lisa Smile,” 552).In addition, the unfinished artworks have become a unique trademark of the artist. Indeed, even today Duchamps works can be easily recognized among others by this feature (“Marcel Duchamp (18871968) Heilbrunn Timeline Of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum Of Art”). The world popular example of this approach is the work called Mona Lisa parody, which managed to influence the world art (SPIE, 17). In addition, besides the visual arts, humor was also used by Duchamp in his writing; his short stories and comments in magazines could not only increase their sale, but also help to spread the art among the public. In addition, Duchamp is known for his jokes and sexual innuendoes.
During his training, Duchamp communicated with the artists of the time, which resulted in him acquiring different personal traits and forming his artistic taste. During his years as a trainee, he was inspired by people like Odilon Redon, whose graphics and paintings are exquisite and tasteful. Consequently, Duchamp has found a new approach to painting and developed a certain perception of color, which formed a ground for his specific artistic vision. Moreover, Duchamp learned the importance of the symbolic aspect of art, developed interest in sexuality and reconsidered his perception of a woman. All these experiences led Duchamp towards surrealism and Dadaism and the unique traits of these styles. In addition, due to the multifaceted nature of his interests, the artist was also attracted to the avant-garde artists motion (Matheson, 105).
Several factors are considered to have influenced Duchamps style. For instance, his art was influenced by the state of the country during the post-World War I period. Besides, Duchamp was influenced by the art market and subversive anti-art in specific. In addition, the rejection of the outmoded painterly obsessions and the interest in cross-genre pollination shaped Duchamps artistic vision. As a result, Duchamps oeuvre comprises the works of different styles; however, the technique applied to almost all the works the unfinished work (Verdier, 44). Duchamps artworks are referred to as remarkable by the critics of different times. According to Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, Duchamps work are an expression of mind on the contrary to the eyes. Besides, Joseph Kosuth also gives credit to the artist, claiming that art only exists conceptually, and Duchamps art was conceptual in its nature (Matheson, 104). As a matter of fact, Andy Warhol and other pop artists claimed that Marcel Duchamp was not only a founding father of modern art, but also a remarkable artist. Nevertheless, it is rather understandable that such a revolutionary artist also received much criticism. For instance, some experts argue that Duchamp only based his works on the concept of sexuality, while others state that they lack actual artistic value. In any case, while still causing responses and discusion in society, Duchamps artworks remain vital for the history of world art.
The revolutionary ideas of the artist are, in fact, a result of devoted work and brainstorming. It is a well-known fact that designing artworks requires a specific kind of knowledge and skills that go beyond normal thinking (Matheson, 104). In case of Duchamp , his aim was not to merely create an artwork, – artworks often just reflect reality, – but to invent some new forms of expression and cause a new, non-conventional perception in the viewers. According to the artist, he involved a notion of reordering reality that goes beyond just presenting it on paper. It requires collecting different ideas and organizing them later to produce new concepts. According to this approach, the creation of art is anti-academic and is a result of interest and ability to perceive and connect ideas effectively. During his training, Duchamp could identify some influence that his teacher and mentor had on his vision. As an example, depiction of a woman as an elusive femme fatale could be caused by Odilon Redons taste for the mastery allure of symbolic matter. This later facilitated the interest in the exploration of sexual identity by Duchamp himself.
In conclusion, Marcel Duchamp facilitated the development of modern art at different levels. The experiments with different styles, media and themes have created the brand new ideas, fresh and revolutionary. Undoubtedly, the contribution of Duchamp to the development of conceptualism and visual art is hard to overestimate. Many scholars depict Duchamp as a father of conceptual arts, and his works remain both interesting and significant for the world art history.
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