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Marcel Duchamp is considered one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Duchamp was influenced by various art currents, particularly Dadaism. He was utterly convinced that artworks should bring intellectual pleasure to a viewer rather than the visual one. His interests included optics, mechanics, chess, music, and kinetic art.
Ideas on Art
Duchamp expressed the following key ideas related to art. He developed a concept of “readymade” art, which identified a mass-produced object of everyday use, selected by an artist, taken out of context, filled with new meaning, and promoted to the status of an artwork. Thus, he changed the understanding of the object of art itself.
Duchamp considered that art should be separated from aesthetics, and he followed that principle in his own art. He rejected “retinal pleasure,” i.e., visual appreciation of an artwork, and claimed that the pleasure from the appreciation of an artwork has to be intellectual, conceptual, rather than visual; as he put it, “I wanted to put painting once again in the service of the mind” (Duchamp par. 6).
As the artist himself recollected, in his A Nude Descending period, his intention was to decompose the art forms, but in the following Dada period, he decided to go further (Duchamp par. 1). Duchamp also wanted to move away from “the physicality of the painting,” i.e., from the clarity of physical forms in an artwork (Duchamp par. 6). Duchamp claimed that the main purpose of art was intellectual satisfaction; he shared that he was tired from the expression “stupid as a painter,” and that attitude had to be changed (Duchamp par. 13).
Duchamp, despite his rejection of physical forms in art, was deeply interested in studying optics and mechanics, particularly mechanical motions. Contrary to his objection to retinal art, he was also interested in kinetic arts, i.e., the art pieces, in which some or all elements are movable, and various visual phenomena. Duchamp produced several kinetic artworks such as Rotary Glass Plates, Precision Optics. He was interested in musical theory, playing chess, and carving chess pieces.
Duchamp was heavily influenced by Dadaism. He never called himself a Dadaist and did not participate in the Dada group, but he recognized his appreciation of Dadaism for its “protest against the physical side of painting” and the implementation of the idea that art should serve a mind rather than eyes (Duchamp par. 7-8).
He also recognized the influence of Cubism, particularly on his Nude. Duchamp rejected the existence of any connection between his art and Futurism. For him, Futurism was linked too strongly to the physical aspect of art while he wanted to move away from it (Duchamp par. 6). Duchamp was also influenced by Impressionism and Post-Impressionism.
As for Duchamp’s influence, he is considered one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. He was one of the artists who are connected with the primary period of development of plastic art. His sculpture Fountain is considered one of the most influential art pieces of the 20th century. Duchamp has a serious influence on the development of the art of the period after World War I, even though he criticized the art trends of that period.
One of the most renowned artists of the last century, Marcel Duchamp, considered that the main purpose of art is an intellectual pleasure. Duchamp was heavily influenced by Dadaism. He was interested in mechanics, optics, chess, music, and kinetic art.
Duchamp, Marcel. Painting…at the Service of the Mind. n.d. Web.