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An animal expression in intellectual disguise? An artistic terrorist? An ambassador to the reproductive qualities of art? A parody of art in which the object is a symbol, an interpretation of a subject. Anti-art.  What, exactly, are the ideas that these readymades recreate? They are sexual and aggressive:

animal expressions given an intellectual edge — made ironical — by being displaced onto objects and into language. L.H.O.O.Q. de-idealizes a woman into a sex object in the act of vandalizing a world famous masterpiece — certainly one way of gaining notoriety — and the phallic spoke of the bicycle wheel aggressively penetrates the female kitchen stool. It is a chance sexual encounter resembling that of Lautréamont’s sewing machine and umbrella, Surrealism’s model for perverse incongruity. Duchamp’s language is “a game of ‘delirium metaphor’,” “a strictly scaled game of nonsense arrayed against the vastness of a dreamlike transparency.”Texts become aggressively ambiguous, and sometimes seem altogether obscure, however evocative. Duchamp may have believed in the “precision and beauty of indifference,” but his Dadaism is far from emotionally indifferent.Read More:

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The basis of Dadaism was the gratuitous act, and according to Kuspit  the most gratuitous Dadaist act of all was Marcel Duchamp’s invention of the readymade, the logical conclusion that anti-art would become banal objectified objects with no aesthetic content. This led all the way to Jackson Pollock, pop art, and Damien Hirst sharks. Yes, Duchamps was a jumping the shark moment where plausible belief could no longer hold sway. Kuspit: One can regard them as experiments in art, or mock works of art, or critiques of handmade works of art, or demonstrations of Dadaist disgust with the very idea of art — a nihilistic debunking or demystification of art — but the important thing is that they led to a whole new idea of art: Objects took second place to ideas, to the extent that they became illustrations of them. Duchamp is, in effect, the first conceptual artist, and the readymades are the first conceptual works of art.

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In her discussion of the so-called liberation photographs by Margaret Bourke-White and Miller, Zemel suggested that the two women’s photographs tended to “anesthetize and aestheticize” the Holocaust. I could not agree more and I indeed feel that Herz’s Zugzwang “anesthetizes and aestheticizes” Hitler.

Kleeblatt was confused by my question — indeed he had a right to be — but you, Donald, asked for the microphone and said, “I don’t think it’s so bizarre at all. Duchamp was a terrorist, wasn’t he? [Microphone disturbances] I just wanted to say that I don’t think it’s so bizarre at all. Duchamp was a terrorist and so was Hitler, and Duchamp was a fetish object, as Hitler is. And a lot of art historians, there are a whole group of art historians who click their intellectual heels and make the Duchamp salute these days. They are both fairly disruptive figures. I think Duchamp was an extremely disruptive influence on art, despite the rationalization of it as, quote, conceptual and so forth. So I think it is a wonderful and actually rather insightful connection to put Hitler and Duchamp together.” Read More:

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