Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) was, without doubt, one of the most influential and controversial artists of the twentieth century. No other artist has attracted such a wealth of contradictory interpretation and commentary. Associated with Cubism, Dada and Surrealism, he avoided being too closely allied with any one art movement. Credited with the invention of the 'readymade' and a champion of what he termed non-retinal art, he was nevertheless responsible for some of the most iconic works of his era, including Nude Descending a Staircase (1912), The Large Glass (1915-23), Fountain (1917) and Etant donnees (1946-66).
The book begins with an accessible introduction to Duchamp's career, putting the reader on a secure footing for the arguments that follow. Duchamp's work is explored through key themes: the question of authorship and identity; the artist's preoccupation with eroticism; the twin poles of alchemy and science that have played such a part in interpretations of Duchamp; the uses of language of secrecy in his work; and the fundamental role of humour and play in his practice that has often confounded high-minded critics.
Through its close examination of Duchamp's actual works and the demystifying of much of the frequently obscure discourse that surrounds them, The Duchamp Book makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of one of the most enigmatic and fascinating artists of recent times.
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