Marcel Duchamp

Cross dressing revolutionary
Disclaimer
Jennifer Tucker

Contributor

It may be hard to take Marcel Duchamp seriously given his proclivity towards semen and urinals, but I kid you not when I say, without this weird man, the art world would not be the same.

Duchamp was quite a trickster, but he didn't dupe us all into identifying him as one of the most important artists to grace the history books. Duchamp was born in France, and perhaps despising how the French take themselves too seriously, Duchamp decided to jump over the pond and wreak havoc on the New York art scene instead.

Best known for his invention of the "readymade," Duchamp really did radicalize art. The formula for a readymade is as follows:

  1. Find random object
  2. Self identify as an artist
  3. Inject artistic intention into said object (this may be done via sincere process or by a lifetime of bullshittery)

And voila! You have yourself a genuine readymade. And for this ridiculous idea, we have Duchamp to thank. It is from the readymade that the whole "anything is art” idea came to be and subsequently the silly statement “my kid could make that” would soon ring loudly through the halls of museums everywhere. Needless to say, chaos was about to be unleashed.

Marcel Duchamp felt that art should not be for the eye, but for the mind. So was this quirky guy a diehard intellectual? Some might say he was just a weirdo with a propensity to twist words and abstract ideas around until you are so confused by what you are looking at that you have to act like you understand his art for fear of being labeled a fool. Some might say. 

But we do love a guy who has a thing for cross-dressing. Duchamp went under the pseudonym RRose Sélavy and rocked a wig and makeup. Fellow artist and photographer Man Ray created a series of photos featuring RRose and her killer style. The name RRose Sélavy is a joke (though a French one admittedly.) When said out loud it sounds like eros, c'est la vie or "eros, that's life." He was a very horny man, it seems. 

No matter your outlook on Duchamp’s and his often challenging art, the brilliant guy managed to gather the art world in his hands and twisted it at will, and for that, all us modern art lovers are eternally grateful.  

Marcel Duchamp is mentioned on Sartle Blog -