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Date

4-29-2020

Description

In 1917, the artist Marcel Duchamp created his groundbreaking piece Fountain, a urinal that Duchamp did not construct himself, but that he signed with an alias, called a piece of art, and entered anonymously into a contest in order to confirm its elevated status. Although the original is lost, the creation of Duchamp's Fountain is widely regarded as a pivotal turning point in art history, but, in a curious way, its effect was delayed. Duchamp himself coined the term "readymade" in 1915 to describe his works; decades later, American artists such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg were reviving the strategy of readymade-ness in their paintings and mix-media works. But, rather than work with readymade objects such as a urinal, a bottle rack, or a comb, they worked with readymade images, some of which they executed themselves. Most famously, Johns' Flag, a painting of 1954, which is, in some sense, a readymade, but only on the level of design because he painted a rendering of the American flag. He constructed Flag, whereas Duchamp did not construct Fountain. Through the close analysis of texts on readymades such as reviews, exhibitions, and interviews, this research investigates the implications of the readymade's revival and transformation in mid-century America. The findings of this research support the argument that the definition of the readymade evolved from Duchamp's conception of the term to include pieces that are readymade only at the level of design.

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Apr 29th, 12:00 AM

But Is It Art?: The Evolution of the Readymade

In 1917, the artist Marcel Duchamp created his groundbreaking piece Fountain, a urinal that Duchamp did not construct himself, but that he signed with an alias, called a piece of art, and entered anonymously into a contest in order to confirm its elevated status. Although the original is lost, the creation of Duchamp's Fountain is widely regarded as a pivotal turning point in art history, but, in a curious way, its effect was delayed. Duchamp himself coined the term "readymade" in 1915 to describe his works; decades later, American artists such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg were reviving the strategy of readymade-ness in their paintings and mix-media works. But, rather than work with readymade objects such as a urinal, a bottle rack, or a comb, they worked with readymade images, some of which they executed themselves. Most famously, Johns' Flag, a painting of 1954, which is, in some sense, a readymade, but only on the level of design because he painted a rendering of the American flag. He constructed Flag, whereas Duchamp did not construct Fountain. Through the close analysis of texts on readymades such as reviews, exhibitions, and interviews, this research investigates the implications of the readymade's revival and transformation in mid-century America. The findings of this research support the argument that the definition of the readymade evolved from Duchamp's conception of the term to include pieces that are readymade only at the level of design.