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ready mades

  • "The strange thing about ready-mades is that I’ve never been able to come up with a definition or an explanation that fully satisfies me." [Marcel Duchamp, cited in Katherine Kuh, 'Marcel Duchamp', published in Katherine Kuh (ed.), The Artist's Voice. Talks with Seventeen Artists (Harper & Row : New York 1962) 91]. Commentators have tried, but in vain. The elements have been covered by a scientific straight jacket whose thickness is even more surprising since the accounts from that era are rare and ambiguous. This imbalance between the fact and its effect has led certain critics to decry fake. "The only possible issue consists in rigorously distinguishing the history of the objects from the history of the idea of the ready-mades." [Dieter Daniels, 'Marcel Duchamp. L’artiste le plus influent du XXe siècle?', in Marcel Duchamp, exhibition catalogue (Musée Jean Tinguely : Bâle/Hatje Cantz 2002) 29].
  • The first ready-made objects appeared before being labeled as such. They were both playful and intimate, and have disappeared today. In 1913, when Marcel Duchamp first screwed a bicycle wheel to a kitchen stool, he had no artistic intention – "I didn’t want to make a piece out of it, you see [...] There was no conception of ready-made nor of anything else, it was just a distraction. I didn’t have a specific reason for doing so, or any intention of an exhibition, or description. No, nothing like that ..." [Entretiens avec Marcel Duchamp (Somogy : Paris 1995) 58].
  • Motivated by the simple pleasure of watching the wheel’s movement in space, he took away its functionality by turning it upside down. The wheel then became a personal object, which decorated the private space of his workshop. "To see this wheel turn was very pleasing, very comforting [...] I liked watching it, just as I like watching flames dance in the fireplace." [Cited by Arturo Schwartz, The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp. Volume II (Delano Greenidge Editions : New York 1997) 442]. After buying it at the Bazar de l’Hôtel-de-Ville, the second object that Duchamp brought back to his studio was the Porte-bouteilles. History categorizes it as the first pure, untransformed ready-made. Yet, just like with the wheel, however, Duchamp didn’t intend Porte-bouteilles to be a work of art; the object was thrown away during Duchamp’s move to the United States. These first 'sculptures toutes faites', as Duchamp named them initially, had been selected in Paris, but only in 1915, after the installation in New York, did the idea of ready-made emerge.
  • Read more
    Séverine Gossart, 'Marcel Duchamp / Ready-mades', translated from the French text, published in the catalogue Dada (Editions du Centre Pompidou : Paris 2005) 378-382. The translation was part of the Press Kit, published by MNAM Centre Pompidou 2005, p. 57-60 [Courtesy MNAM Centre Pompidou].
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  • Francis M. Naumann
    Marcel Duchamp. The Art of Making Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction / Francis M. Naumann (Harry N. Abrams : New York 1999).
  • François Raymond
    Marcel Duchamp et le multiple dans l'art moderne / François Raymond (National Library of Canada = Bibliothèque nationale du Canada : Ottawa [2001]). Thesis.
  • Craig Adcock
    'Duchamp's Perspective. The Intersection of Art and Geometry', in tout-fait. Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal issue 5 (2003).
  • Juam Alfaro
    'The Art of Looking Back and the Reward of More or Less Being Seen', in tout-fait. Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal issue 3 (2000).
  • Paul B. Franklin
    'Le (Re)tour du ready-made', in Étant donné Marcel Duchamp n°4 (2004).
  • Thomas Girst
    '(Ab)Using Marcel Duchamp. The Concept of the Readymade in Post-War and Contemporary American Art', in tout-fait. Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal issue 5 (2003).
  • David Hopkins
    'Sameness and Difference. Duchamp's Editioned Readymades and the Neo-Avant-Garde', in Dietrich Scheunemann (ed.), Avant-Garde/Neo-Avant-Garde. Avant-Garde Critical Studies 17 (Rodopi : Amsterdam 2005) 91-108.
  • Walter Hopps and Dennis Hopper
    'A Readymade in the Making', in Étant donné Marcel Duchamp n°6 (2005).
  • Helen Molesworth
    'Work Avoidance. The everyday life of Marcel Duchamp's readymades', in Art Journal (Winter 1998).
  • Hector Obalk
    'The Unfindable Readymade', in tout-fait. Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal issue 2 (2000).
  • David Reed
    'The Developing Language of the Readymades', in Art History 8, no. 2 (1985) 209-227. Marcel Duchamp's 'readymades' enlarged the category of the art object to include movement and sound, to reflect the importance of machines in modern life, and to remind the viewer of his role in the artistic process.
  • Rhonda Roland Shearer
    'Marcel Duchamp's Impossible Bed and other "Not" Readymade Objects. A Possible Route of Influence from Art to Science. Part I [-II]', originally published in Art & Academe 10 (Fall 1997) n°1, 26-62 and (Fall 1998) n°2, 76-95.
  • Rhonda Roland Shearer and Stephen Jay Gould
    'Of Two Minds and One Nature', in Science 286, Issue 5442 (November 1999) 1093-1094.
  • Jay D. Russell
    Marcel Duchamp's Readymades. Walking on Infrathin Ice, in Contrapposto 12 (1997). Special Issue 'Crossing Boundaries/Beyond the Object' [Archive].
  • Jack Spector
    'Duchamp's Gendered Plumbing. A Family Business?', in tout-fait. Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal perpetual (2005).
  • Olav Velthuis
    'Duchamp’s Financial Documents. Exchange as a Source of Value (with video)', in tout-fait. Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal issue 2 (2000).
  • Olav Velthuis
    'In Boggs We Trust', in tout-fait. Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal issue 4 (2002).
  • Arturo Schwarz (ed.)
    The complete works of Marcel Duchamp / by Arturo Schwarz. Rev. and expanded paperback ed. (Delano Greenidge Editions : New York 2000). Includes bibliographic references (p. 923-954) and index.
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    banner: portrait Marcel Duchamp [Photo Richard Avedon].