deep philosophy or conceptual quip?

The greatest philosopher in modern art? Or did the art world make him, artificially construct him into a “readymade” himself, the philosopher who would trash tradition and under the pretext of modernism and the new, engage in the kind of dead-end misogyny and patriarchy he was ostensibly freeing the art world from. At heart, was as philosophy goes, given to the philosophical basis of say a Heidegger in his sparring anf jabbing with the structure of aesthetic convention that had been rigor-mortisized with the Protestant ethic of the Enlightenment, consumerism and the rampant individualism it seemed to create. Hard to say.

—This collection of masterpieces by the Italian Primitives was acquired early in the 19th century by the German baron Bernard von Lindenau (1779-1854). An eminent politician, art enthusiast and philanthropist, Bernard von Lindenau opened a vast, classical-style house in his native town of Altenburg, south of Dresden, in 1848 in order to exhibit his collections of works of art and to encourage wider access to culture “for the education of the young and the pleasure of the old”.
With German reunification and the end of the Communist regime, western researchers were once again able to access this unique, forgotten collection. —Read More:

There is no doubt he contributed to 20th century art, its the nature of that contribution and in particular the way it shaped a “business” ethic of art as seen in Warhol and even worse poseurs and masters of the gesture in Koons, Hirst, McCarthy et al. that have pushed money values of art to the forefront, subsuming all other considerations, that places Duchamp central in any study of aesthetics.

—There are of course a few sharp, disorienting turns thrown in to be sure that the viewer, if he comes to the right conclusion, arrives there giddy. The medieval-looking door, heavy and dilapidated as European art tradition, yet aesthetically neutral as a readymade. The female figure whose slightly displaced genitalia evade the pornographic pleasures of realism by the virtual fig-leaf of deformity. The bed of twigs is there to make the spectator uncomfortable. The whole composition is a sendup on the order of Euripides’ Bacchae. It parodies the aesthetic ideals cherished from the Renaissance on. (Women are beautiful. Painting should be beautiful. The most beautiful painting should show a beautiful woman.) At the same time it makes fun of the aesthetic dogmas of the twentieth century. (The world is ugly. Painting should be ugly. The most meaningful painting should show a hideous woman.)—Read More:

Duchamp’s scientific style was directed against the aesthetic preconceptions that had defined art since the Renaissance. (Interestingly, when asked what traditional painting he did like, he professed an admiration for the pre-Renaissance Italian Primitives.) Duchamp used the term “retinal” as a concise formulation of his opposition to the received opinions about beauty and form that had been in effect since the fourteenth century and da Vinci. He said

. . . too great an importance [has been] given to the retinal. Since Courbet, it’s been believed that painting is addressed to the retina. That was everyone’s error. The retinal shudder! Before, painting had other functions: it could be religious, philosophical, moral.

—but Philip Larson argues an interesting point (although without citing a source for this fact, his assertion seems just as ungrounded as the speculations he argues against): “Not found in most writings about Duchamp is the faintly amusing fact that Duchamp intended us to read the inscription as a series of enunciated French letters, like O.U.R.A.Q.T. in English. The Duchamp blurb comes out as something more unforgivable than ‘She has a hot ass’” .
Finally, Duchamp’s choice of the Mona Lisa may not have been as arbitrary as often assumed. There may be a more personal reason why Duchamp focused on this particular example of ideal aesthetic beauty. Duchamp’s friend Guillaume Apollinaire was falsely detained in connection with the theft of the Mona Lisa and some small sculptures from the Louvre several years prior to Duchamp’s creation of this Readymade. This may be Duchamp’s way of indirectly referencing his friend Apollinaire.—Read More:

Duchamp was endeavoring to dispel aesthetic dogma, and the adoption of a scientific style enabled him to do so in a form that matched his own cool and intellectual stance. He himself describes his line as

Mechanical drawing. It upholds no taste, since it is outside pictorial convention.

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—The Ognissanti Madonna, Giotto,
1306-10, tempera on panel, Uffizi Read More:

The attitude of renunciation of existing aesthetics in the conventional, ordinary sense of the world was the result of a certain nihilistic pessimism, and borne of a certain necessity to articulate the modern condition. To put a Proustian literary stamp on visual art. But really, in terms of modernism, why do we have to adapt to technology and not vice-versa? The parodying of aesthetic ideals, the traditionalism that was crumbling, but were still cherished from the Renaissance were not the issue; Modernism would become as kitschy and cliche ridden as well and even develop new sicknesses and pathologies based on a destructive attitude, and upside down world where destroying is building much like Orwellian double-speak…

(see link at end) …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:


(see link at end)…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.)

As Joseph Beuys suggested in “The silence of Marcel Duchamp is overrated,” it is time to get beyond the sick Duchampian joke, all the more so because it has become a facile conceptual quip. It is especially decadent in its longwinded, scholarly Naumann version, where it looks like a petrified corpse from Pompeii, that is, like bitter shit. Read More:

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