God in the Gallery Part 4: Marcel Duchamp

Mr. Siedell proceeds next to a discussion of Marcel Duchamp.  He submitted a urinal to the jury of the Society of Independent Artists in New York in 1917 for exhibition.  The “work” was rejected.  It is quite telling that the actual piece of “art work” disappeared shortly after it made a stir (presumably into a trash bin).  We can only see what it looked like because Alfred Stieglitz happened to take a picture of it.

Mr. Siedell spends three pages or so explaining why this is such a great work of art.  This alone should illuminate the wasteland that is modern art.  One supposes that had Mr. Duchamp brought in a pile of dog feces, some brilliant curator would have gotten around to explaining how THAT was a great work of art.

Some of Mr. Siedell’s comments:

“Duchamp’s readymades affirm that art is not merely an object, it is an institutionalized way of making, looking, experiencing, and interpreting.”  Seriously?  This would seem to qualify dog feces as art, as long as an artist brought it and not a normal person.

“Despite the fact that Duchamp did not make Fountain, but found it, it still possesses an “esthetic echo,” which is a complex harmony of sounds derived both from the object itself and its circumstances of presentation.”

This is a fine example of words that mean nothing.  By this standard anything that Duchamp found and presented as art was ipso facto “art.”  This is just silliness, and Mr. Siedell plays (willingly one presumes) into the caricature of every art museum curator as someone desperate to be accepted and approved by the art world and willing to do or say or write anything to do so.

It’s difficult to take contemporary art seriously when nitwittery like this masquerades as academic discussion.

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