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Artists Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp Photo

Marcel Duchamp

French Painter and Sculptor

Movements and Styles: Cubism, Dada, Surrealism, Conceptual Art

Born: July 28, 1887 - Normandy, France

Died: October 2, 1968 - Neuilly-sur-Seine, France

Marcel Duchamp Timeline

Quotes

"I don't believe in art. I believe in artist."
Marcel Duchamp
"To all appearances, the artist acts like a mediumistic being who, from the labyrinth beyond time and space, seeks his way out to a clearing."
The Creative Act (1957)
"I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste."
Marcel Duchamp
"The individual, man as a man, man as a brain, if you like, interests me more than what he makes, because I've noticed that most artists only repeat themselves."
Marcel Duchamp
"[Art] is paradoxical. It is almost schizophrenic. On one side I worked from a very intellectual form of activity, and on the other de-deifying everything by more materialistic thoughts."
Marcel Duchamp
"When I discovered ready-mades I thought to discourage aesthetics. In Neo-Dada they have taken my ready-mades and found aesthetic beauty in them. I threw the bottle-rack and the urinal into their faces as a challenge and now they admire them for their aesthetic beauty."
1962 Letter to Hans Richter
"The readymade is the consequence of the refusal which made me say: There are so many people who make pictures with their hands, that one should end up not using the hand."
Marcel Duchamp
"I am still a victim of chess. It has all the beauty of art, and much more. It cannot be commercialized. Chess is much purer than art in its social position."
Marcel Duchamp

"You cannot define electricity. The same can be said of art. It is a kind of inner current in a human being, or something which needs no definition."

Marcel Duchamp Signature

Synopsis

Few artists can boast having changed the course of art history in the way that Marcel Duchamp did. By challenging the very notion of what is art, his first "readymades" sent shock waves across the art world that can still be felt today. Duchamp's ongoing preoccupation with the mechanisms of desire and human sexuality as well as his fondness for wordplay aligns his work with that of Surrealists, although he steadfastly refused to be affiliated with any specific artistic movement per se. In his insistence that art should be driven by ideas above all, Duchamp is generally considered to be the father of Conceptual art. His refusal to follow a conventional artistic path, matched only by a horror of repetition which accounts for the relatively small number of works Duchamp produced in the span of his short career, ultimately led to his withdrawal from the art world. In later years, Duchamp famously spent his time playing chess, even as he labored away in secret at his last enigmatic masterpiece, which was only unveiled after his death.

Key Ideas

Coined by Duchamp, the term "readymade" came to designate mass-produced everyday objects taken out of their usual context and promoted to the status of artworks by the mere choice of the artist. A performative act as much as a stylistic category, the readymade had far-reaching implications for what can legitimately be considered an object of art.
Duchamp rejected purely visual or what he dubbed "retinal pleasure," deeming it to be facile, in favor of more intellectual, concept-driven approaches to art-making and, for that matter, viewing. He remained committed, however, to the study of perspective and optics which underpins his experiments with kinetic devices, reflecting an ongoing concern with the representation of motion and machines common to Futurist and Surrealist artists at the time.
A taste for jokes, tongue-in-cheek wit and subversive humor, rife with sexual innuendoes, characterizes Duchamp's work and makes for much of its enjoyment. He fashioned puns out of everyday expressions which he conveyed through visual means. The linguistic dimension of his work in particular paved the way for Conceptual art.

Biography

Marcel Duchamp Photo

Childhood

Marcel Duchamp was raised in Normandy, in a family of artists. His father was mayor of Blainville and his mother raised their seven children and painted landscapes depicting the French countryside. Family time was spent playing chess, reading, painting, and playing music. One of Marcel's earliest artworks, Landscape at Blainville (1902), painted at age fifteen, reflected his family's love of Claude Monet. Marcel was close to his two older brothers, and in 1904, after both had left home to become artists, he joined them in Paris to study painting at Académie Julian. His brother, Jacques Villon, supported him during his studies, and Marcel earned some income by working as a cartoonist. Duchamp's early drawings evince his ongoing interest in visual and verbal puns.

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Marcel Duchamp Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Marcel Duchamp
Interactive chart with Marcel Duchamp's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Alfred JarryAlfred Jarry
Édouard ManetÉdouard Manet
Henri MatisseHenri Matisse
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
Georges BraqueGeorges Braque

Personal Contacts

André BretonAndré Breton
Max ErnstMax Ernst
Man RayMan Ray
Guillaume ApollinaireGuillaume Apollinaire
Francis PicabiaFrancis Picabia

Movements

ImpressionismImpressionism
FauvismFauvism
CubismCubism
FuturismFuturism
SymbolismSymbolism

Influences on Artist
Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp
Years Worked: 1902 - 1968
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Andy WarholAndy Warhol
Jasper JohnsJasper Johns
Robert RauschenbergRobert Rauschenberg
Jeff KoonsJeff Koons
Damien HirstDamien Hirst

Personal Contacts

André BretonAndré Breton
Peggy GuggenheimPeggy Guggenheim
John CageJohn Cage
Clement GreenbergClement Greenberg

Movements

DadaDada
SurrealismSurrealism
Pop ArtPop Art
Installation ArtInstallation Art
Conceptual ArtConceptual Art

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