The French Dada artist Marcel Duchamp was a member of artist Florine Stettheimer’s family’s inner circle. He is depicted here in the company of Rrose Selavy, the female alter ego that he invented in 1920. He casually carries out his game of sexual transformation by means of a contraption operated from an armchair. The clock and the chess knight are both Ducahmpian symbols: the one being a reference to the circularity of Dada time; the other an illusions to Duchamp’s prowess at chess. The frame (also by Stettheimer), composed of Duchamp’s monogram in a circle of infinite repetition, wryly comments on his program of artistic self-promotion and his obsession with identity and its ambiguities.
Portrait of Marcel Duchamp and Rrose Selavy (1923) was Photographed in the Jewish Museum in Manhattan.
Why Not Sneeze, Rose Sélavy? is a 1921Readymade sculpture by Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp considered this to be an “Assisted Readymade” because the original object, the Birdcage, was altered by the artist with the addition of the other objects. These consist of 152 white cubes (made of marble but resembling sugar cubes), a mercury thermometer, a piece of cuttlebone, and a tiny porcelain dish.
The birdcage is made of painted metal and contains several wooden perches. Rrose Sélavy, or Rose Sélavy, was one of the pseudonyms used by artist for the creation of other works, such as This One.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art displays the original as part of the Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection. Several replicas made by Duchamp exist (this is one, from 1964, of those) but only in the original are the cubes stamped “Made in France.”
Man Ray (1890 – 1976) worked in a wide variety of media, including photography, painting, and sculpture, often blurring the boundaries between these practices. Obstruction, an assemblage of 63 wooden coat hangers, is an example of the type of artwork Dada artist Marcel Duchamp called a Ready-Made, a term that suggests Man Ray’s appropriation and manipulation of pre-existing, common objects. The sculpture playfully mimics a chandelier, but, as the hangers seemingly divide and multiply, Obstruction quickly evolves into a dense tangle of overlapping forms. Cast shadows serve as distorted, immaterial extensions of its physical presence. Man Ray first created Obstruction in 1920, but the present work belongs to an addition of 15 reproductions that he created in 1961 for an important exhibition of kinetic art.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Inscribed on a strip of metal glued across the approximate center of this work are the words of its title, suggesting that viewers look through the lens that Duchamp mounted between two panes of glass and haloed in concentric circles. The title of this work, which Duchamp said he “intended to sound like an oculist’s prescription,” tells the viewer exactly how to look at it. But peering through the convex lens embedded in the work’s glass “for almost an hour” would have a hallucinatory effect, the view being dwarfed, flipped, and otherwise distorted.
Meanwhile, the viewer who is patiently following the title’s instruction is put on display for anyone else walking by. Duchamp called To Be Looked At . . . his “small glass,” to distinguish it from his famous Large Glass of 1915–23. He made this work while living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he had fled earlier in 1918 to escape the oppressive atmosphere of the United States during World War I. When he shipped it back to New York, the glass cracked in transit, an effect that delighted the artist.
In the tradition of Marcel Duchamp’s Ready-Mades, this 3D printed Pez dispenser by British artist Tom Burtonwood (in the likeness of Duchamp’s Fountain sculpture) combines high and low, pop and populous, and art and kitsch.
Available in the gift shop at the New Museum of Contemporary Art for $70, discounted to $59.50 for Members!
This Sculpture / Installation, Untitled (Night Train) (1989) by African-American artist David Hammons had just been re-rotated into display from the permanent collection at MOMA when I visited earlier this month, and I think it’s really terrific.
David Hammons has risen to prominence while at the same time consciously ducking the attention of critics, galleries and museums, preferring to “do things in the street.” A recipient of both a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award and a Pric de Rome, Hammons places himself as an artist between Arte Povera and Marcel Duchamp. He makes his art from refuse and the detritus of African-American life: chicken wings, Thunderbird and Night Train bottles, clippings from dreadlocks, basketball hoops, etc. Hammons‘ deeply felt political views on race and cultural stereotypes give his witty and elegant sculptures, installations, and body prints an integrity that promises to keep the focus on his art rather than on his career.
James Cohan Gallery is currently hosting a diverse a group exhibition entitled By Proxy, which Geoffrey and I stumbled upon during our most recent art crawl.
Oliver Laric, Yuanmingyuan Columns
The exhibit title, By Proxy, referes to what Marcel Duchamp called “aesthetic osmosis” — the process by which an artist transfers responsibility to a viewer, empowering them to complete the work out in the world. This idea, of art as shared enterprise, is the theme of this exhibition. Here, the word proxy encompasses the tools and techniques that complete artworks away from the artist’s hand. This exhibition is concerned with those tools and techniques, the effects they can have, and the instances when an idea calls for more than just the artist to take form.
Xu Zhen, Eternity – Aphrodite of Knidos
By Proxy includes Duchamp’s assisted readymade With Hidden Noise, a ball of string with an unknown object rattling inside it; embroidery works by Alighiero Boetti; three drawings from John Cage’s 1990 series River Rocks and Smoke, in which chance operations are performed by smoke settling in the fibers of the paper; Oliver Laric’s Yuanmingyuan Columns, a new work created with 3D scans of Chinese cultural artifacts ensconced in Bergen, Norway; Yoko Ono’s seminal chess set and war allegory Play it By Trust; and a work from Xu Zhen’s recent Eternity series, which juxtaposes the East and West by mounting headless replicas of key Hellenistic and Buddhist sculptures neck to neck.
Play It By Trust, Chess Board Detail (above) and Sign (below), which appears on the backs of each chair.
Xu Zhen, Under Heaven
Detail from Above Painting
The exhibition incorporates work from the past century to the present day. Participating artists are Francis Alÿs, Alighiero Boetti, John Cage, Marcel Duchamp, Wade Guyton, Oliver Laric, Lee Mingwei, Sol LeWitt, Yoko Ono, Jon Rafman, Mariah Robertson, Siebren Versteeg and Xu Zhen. Definitely worth checking out.
Created in 1925, Marcel Duchamp’s Rotary Demisphere (Precision Optics) is a kinetic sculpture that turns itself on at random intervals. Back in Paris after World War I, Duchamp experimented with machines that produced optical effects — work he had begun in New York. When this machine is set in motion, the circles appear to pulsate toward the viewer. The copper ring around the dome’s circumference is engraved with French words chosen for the way their sounds echo one another: Rrose Selavy et moi esquivons les ecchymoses des esquimaux aux mots exquis (Rrose Selavy and I dodge the Eskimos’s bruises with exquisite words).
Rotary Demisphere is part of the Permanent Collection at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. Find it in the Painting and Sculpture Galleries.
I first became acquainted with Marcel Duchamp’s very famous sculpture, Fresh Widow (1920), when I was studying art in college. Constructed by a carpenter in accordance with Duchamp’s instructions, Fresh Widow is a small version of the double doors commonly called a French window. Duchamp was fascinated by themes of sight and perception; here, the expectation of a view through windowpanes is thwarted by opaque black leather, which Duchamp insisted “be shined everyday like shoes.”
Fresh Widow is also reference to the recent abundance of widows of World War I fighters.
An inscription at the sculpture’s base reads COPYRIGHT ROSE SELAVY 1920, making it the first work to be signed by Duchamp’s female alter ego Rose Sélavy (later spelled Rrose). Duchamp derived the name from the French saying: “éros, c’est la vie,” which can be interpreted as “the sex drive is life.”
Fresh Widow is part of the permanent collection at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art.
Artist Don Porcella currently has a Solo Exhibition of new and favorite works – featuring both his trademark pipe cleaner sculptures and his hand made encaustic paintings– at Spattered Columns Exhibition Space, a venue for NYC- based artists and curators without commercial gallery representation, which is run by Art Connects New York. You may have read about Don’s awesome art previously here at The Gig or elsewhere: his work is always thought provoking and a lot of fun.
At Spattered Columns you can see a few of Don’s larger, multi-component installations such as There You Remain in the Drain of the Mainframe Food Chain; a large and very engaging tableau depicting a couple relaxing in their backyard swimming pool accompanied by their snacks, cans of beer, and pet rats. The detail in this work is amazing! I also really dug Making Room for New Ideas: The Destruction of the Readymade, for which Don created woven pipe cleaner replicas of several Modern/Contemporary Art masterpieces including Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, Andy Warhol’s Brillo Box and Damien Hirst’s Diamond Skull – all of which are set ablaze atop a pipe cleaner log pyre. Don’s famous series of clever pipe cleaner Action Figures in their hand made cello bag packaging is represented and you can also see one of his best known larger pipe cleaner sculptures, The Art Dealer and His Artist at the Spattered Columns exhibit. The space is also a really cool, open loft with lots of natural light and a nice downtown vibe, so make a point to check it out!
Everything and Nothing at All is on Exhibit through October 28, 2011 at Spattered Columns Exhibition Space, 491 Broadway (corner of Broome Street) 5th Floor, NYC. Hours are Monday -Thursday, Noon to 6:00 PM or by Appointment by Calling 646-546-5334.