Sunday, January 29, 2012
In 2014, the readymade turns 100. To celebrate the centennial of Marcel Duchamp's concept, I will curate an exhibition of "new readymades" to open in late Spring of 2014 at the American University's Museum at Katzen Arts Center. I have the able support of my friend and excellent colleague, Jack Rasmussen, Katzen's Director, and you can follow our journey at yet another blog I run, Readymade at 100.
Last weekend I traveled to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and met with a curator from the museum's Department of Modern and Contemporary Art to discuss the possible loan of the museum's Duchamp readymades. PMA, of course, has the largest collection of Duchamp artworks in the U.S. and owns several original readymades. When I say "original," I mean those Duchamp works from the 1914-21 era - the readymade's hey-day.(1)
One of those originals, Comb, from 1916, sits unassumingly in a glass vitrine in Room 182 at PMA. Obviously, this is unfathomable to use upon a human and speculation ranges from it being for dogs or cattle.(2)) Its usage is moot because the inscription written in tiny lettering along the edge suggests the more typical Duchampian "use" involving sexual reference.(3)
Regardless, it is an enchantingly diminutive piece that Duchamp felt epitomized the ideal characteristics of a readymade: "No beauty, no ugliness, nothing particularly aesthetic about it."
1. In the 1960's Duchamp would create "replicas" while living in New York City.