Finding the point at which the same and the other are indiscernible. It is where the center of thought is a blurry area characterized by discontinuity where Marcel Duchamp said the impersonality of artistic action can affirm itself. The ready made was the capture of this indifferent decision. Almost magically, it was art without the artist where the virtues of the conception of the infinite and of chance are inverted and exchanged.
To Marcel Duchamp, art is only the trace of its own action. But this trace criticizes in thought the idol of art, the deification of art that is found in ordinary romanticism, a romanticism that arises to reveal the all in infinite transcendence. As Duchamp saw it, the critical point of the idea is to be the origin of art. This deconstructed, minimalized, deflated, the eternal, subjectivizing line of romanticism that he traced to Courbet, to the realm of pure anonymous action.
…Synthetically, Breton attributes to Duchamp, once more, the quality that everyone has attributed to him: an exceptional intelligence. This would be trivial if it was a psychological remark: But it is much more than that. What is in question, in fact, is a new relation between art and concept. That is, a form of transgression of romanticism. Call “romanticism” the theory of a space between the quasi-divine or sacred poetic intuition of the infinite, and the supposedly finite and sterile constraints of calculating rationality. In a totally .explicit manner, Duchamp is the hero of an art that ignores this space. Duchamp creates against the entire theory of inspiration and genius. He despises the category of taste that constitutes the unity of artistic action.
Two slogans are quite characteristic. Duchamp declares he made the “ready-made” “with no other intention except to discharge ideas”. And again: “I want to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.” Read More:http://www.lacan.com/symptom/?p=39
As Badiou said, the breakthrough of Duchamp was the conception of the rational form of the generic idea of the engulfment of art by ordinary life. The narrative, ironically of romantic epic proportions, in the work of Duchamp, is of the struggle between the abstraction of indifferent choice and the seduction of desire and images.
The opposing argument, takes Duchamp out of the pedestal of Academia style worship by positing that art is not an intellectual exercise of indifference and anonymity and the intrinsic intensity of an individual has to manifest itself somewhere, in this case in the nihilisitic subtext, destructive and misogynist that lies under this “abstraction of indifferent choice.” Namely that no choice is indifferent or random, but a conscious decision:
I think an anecdote reported by Hans J. Kleinschmidt affords a good deal of insight into Duchamp. In Berlin Dada, Dada Spectrum: The Dialectics of Revolt, eds. Stephen Foster and Rudolf Kuenzli (Madison, Wisc., Coda Press, 1979), p. 174, Kleinschmidt writes: “Duchamp’s influence on artists in our time is well known and extends beyond the confines of this article. But there is the amusing story Sidney Janis told me about Duchamp as the most radical Dadaist of all. He had graciously consented to help design the announcement for the 1954 Dada retrospective a
e Janis Gallery. When Sidney Janis showed Duchamp the final proofs of the carefully folded sheet with every artist’s name in the proper place, Duchamp approved of the printing, said he liked it very much. He then took one copy, proceeded to crumple it completely in his hands and said to Janis: ‘This is the way you ought to mail them’.”
I think this behavior symbolizes Duchamp’s destructive attitude. Art history may call it a Dadaist gesture, but human beings recognize it as contempt. It epitomizes Duchamp’s malevolence — his pathological negativism. (I am using “negativism” in the sense that Anna Freud did in her article analyzing it. Otto Fenichel adds that in negativism “resentment against the external world finds open expression.”)
Woman is perhaps the most conspicuous target of his destructive negativism. It is subliminally evident in Nude Descending the Staircase and Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, and viciously refined in L.H.O.O.Q and the Etant Donnés. In all these works she is a victim, mocked and ruined. (It is worth noting that Mark Polizzotti, in his biography of Andre Breton, describes the Dadaists as “joyful terrorists” [Breton's term]. Duchamp seems to have become an increasingly joyless one.) …Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazine/features/naumann/naumann6-15-00.asp
Perhaps, in the last analysis, there was only one genuine terrorist in modern art, Marcel Duchamp, whose readymades perversely undermined the difference between non-art and art, thus giving license to all kinds of intellectual perversity, indeed, turning art into a kind of perverse theory, that is, conceptual kitsch, the most pretentious kitsch of all. ( Kuspit )