At least one review of "Besides, With, Against, And Yet: Abstraction and The Ready-Made Gesture" (at New York's The Kitchen through January 16) flirts with the Duchampian pun of the exhibit's subtitle as a comment on both the artist's appropriation of mechanically reproduced ("readymade") objects and imagery and the role of received ("readymade") critical vocabularies in the way any work is conceived and appreciated. As the perceptive critic notes, nearly every work of art confronts expectations, constraints, and opportunities generated by what has gone before, reinventing what's given ("Útant donnÚs") in an ongoing negotiation between influence and innovation: imitation, rejection, and synthesis.
And nearly a century after the elevation of the first "readymades" to the status of art, surprises are still possible. Visitors to the Kitchen exhibit discover that an abstract image isn't a painting at all, but a high-definition reproduction; the historian concludes that Duchamp's allegedly "found" objects were constructed by the artist himself. The boundary of art -- "retinal" or otherwise -- keeps sliding. As the critic concludes, there may never be "enough to look at," but there's still "plenty to think about."
("Besides, With, Against, And Yet: Abstraction and The Ready-Made Gesture" is on display through January 16 at The Kitchen, 512 W 19th Street, New York City.)