Marcel Duchamp

subject = art 101
title = Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp is considered
as one of the most influential artists of the 20th Century by the modern art
world. Duchamp, who participated in artistic movements from Fauvism to Surrealism,
was an innovator and a revolutionary within the art world. Duchamp, being
a founding force in the Dada movement, was also a main influencing factor of
the development of the 20th Century avant-garde art. All in all Duchamp has
become a legend within the art world.
Marcel Duchamp was born on July 28,1887
in Blainville France. Being the brother of two prominent artists, Raymond Duchamp-Villon
and Jacques Villon, it seemed only natural that the young Marcel Duchamp would
participate in the arts. Also, his childhood home was abundantly decorated
with seascapes, landscapes, and etchings produced by his grandfather Emile-Frederic
Nicolle. As he himself put it, “When you see so many paintings you’ve got
to paint.” In 1907, at age 17, Duchamp resolved to become an artist.
Marcel
Duchamp had the great fortune of entering the world of art at a most exciting
time when the birth of Fauvism and Cubism was in the not so distant future.
Although Marcel incorporated these styles he was never satisfied with any
single style. He felt that styles were learned techniques which put creativity,
exploration, and imagination in the background of the art scene. Duchamp’s
view of the lack of creativity and originality may have prompted many of his
later creations which, at the time of their production, seemed absurd.
Throughout
Marcel Duchamp’s career he dabbled in a wide variety of styles ranging from
Fauvism to Cubism, all the way to the art of Ready-mades. Although he openly
expressed that painting bored him, he did it quite well. Early in his career
he, like most young artists, painted friends and family, things he was familiar
with. Duchamp’s only formal training came at the Academie Julian in Paris from
where he dropped out after only eighteen months to pursue his own interests.
This seems to be a defining characteristic of Marcel Duchamp’s career, he
did things that suited him, not what others felt was the correct thing to do.
Marcel
Duchamp’s artistic output began with portraits of people close to him such
as family members and close friends. At this time Duchamp was experimenting
with Fauvism, the art of the “wild beasts”. In this from of art one could
use arbitrary colors. This is the reason one might see portraits made by Duchamp
from around 1910 in which people are represented with greenish skin or blue
hair. Throughout Duchamp’s career it was not as important to be totally accurate
as it was to get a creative point or theme across.
One negative view of Fauvism
was that it was not intellectually stimulating for artists. This is a main
reason why many artists, one of them being Duchamp, turned their artistic focus
the avant-garde. Cubism, with complex planes and geometrically sound shapes
gave artists the intellectual stimulation that they craved. Colors of the
early cubist period were muted which put the spotlight more on the visual effects
of the art. The possibilities of manipulation of the shapes to Duchamp’s own
interests benefited him immensely.
Duchamp prospered as he turned away from
the conservative Fauvism moving towards the avant-garde and experimentation
within the cubist mode of art. He discovered ways to manipulate his paintings
to be able to show the intricacies of his favorite game chess. Duchamp believed
that art should be left up to the mind rather than the eyes, just as in chess.
His first production of the Cubist origin is titled The Sonata. It is said
that many of the characteristics of this painting reveal influence from a group
of Cubist artists, which included his two brothers, called the Puteaux Cubists.
This group of artists rebelled against casual cubism ,which was practiced by
the likes of Picasso and Braque, in favor of geometric precision.
Duchamp
was a pioneer in Cubism by the way he showed movement in his paintings. His
first attempt at showing movement through the geometric shapes is titled Sad
Young Man On A Train. In this work Duchamp uses four or five overlapping profiles
moving from left to right across the canvas. The colors were dark symbolizing
Duchamp’s mood at the time. He was preparing to leave Paris in favor of, what
he believed to be a less commercial area, Munich. In another attempt at movement
in Cubism, Duchamp created a painting known as Nude Descending A Staircase
No.1. In viewing this work, the first version of one of his most famous works,
one can see the motion is much