Duchamp on Duchamp

This is from Drawing on Art: Duchamp and Company by Dalia Judovitz, Marcel Duchamp.

Referring back to Guston’s remarks about Duchamp finding Rubens to be random and spontaneous (which I’m still calling the trance state).

Rudolph Arnheim… objected to Duchamp’s position, since he himself called for judgement and awareness on the part of the artist. For him, to talk about the artists as medium was to “attribute to him the kind of passivity and the kind of being an instrument” that ends up neglecting the very essence of the “artistic process.” Duchamp responded to Arnheim by clarifying that he did not mean “to make a medium of the artist but to compare him to the status of a medium,” given that “half of the creation is done by these onlookers.” Duchamp’s comparison of the artist to a medium does not diminish the artist’s capacity to make creative decisions. Rather, what Duchamp was challenging was the presumed coincidence between the artist’s understanding of his or her work and the work’s reception by the spectator or art institutions that would judge its merits:

I know that this statement will not meet with the approval of many artists who refuse the mediumistic role and insist on their awareness of the creative act–yet, art history has consistently decided upon the virtues of a work of art through considerations completely divorced from the rationalized explanations of the artist. (Writings of Marcel Duchamp).

Duchamp argued that while the artists may be full of the best intentions, he “plays no role at all in the judgement of his own work.” The artist’s decisions in the execution of the work are informed by intuitions, shaped by prior artistic gestures and conventions, that determine outcome. However, the fact that these intuitions cannot be fully known or accounted for by the artist in no way diminishes their impact and regulative force.

Here’s a link to the trance state of and Old Master


So here we have the supreme rationalist artist that the role of the artist is essentially mediumistic. As Guston noted, even the most rational artist is aware that the act of making art is in essence irrational.

About trueoutsider

I'm an artist.
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One Response to Duchamp on Duchamp

  1. johnk823 says:

    Bart, This is disturbing, only to the extent that we would even consider that what Duchamp has to say, has any validity at all. As a person, he does get to have freedom of speech, to express his own thoughts, but if we don’t validate what he has to say, then his words are all wasted ones. He is playing and preying on artist, because he has nothing valid to say about anything, but, he did chose artist. It could have been truck drivers, he would still have the negative within his mind. This is how negative people are and this is what they do best.

    What does he really know about art, or mediums of art, or of artistic expression, or why one artist expresses his art one way and another artist expresses himself another way. He has grouped us all together in to one corral, like horses and given us all a label. The question is, as an artist do you accept his label. For me there are no labels, just art.

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