Spinning His Wheel(s)
By Scott Martin
posted: 12-04-09
Bicycle Wheel, 1913
Image Source
While Marcel Duchamp was fond of giving the first versions of his Bicycle Wheel a good turn in his studio, "do not touch" policies ensure that reproductions enshrined in the world's public art collections remain at rest. By 1961, the artist himself had to ask a museum attendant for permission to reposition one of these replicas in order to facilitate a photographic record of the exhibit. (The guard reportedly replied, "Don't you know you're not supposed to move things in the museum?") In any event, the original wheels Duchamp once spun are lost....

Art historian Lars Blunck, author of Duchamps Präzisionsoptik, meditates on the trajectory of the wheels and the tension between their notional function (to spin, albeit precariously) and current status as immovable objects of art, concluding that "the turning wheel of history has made the Bicycle Wheel an artefact. Reciprocally, the latter has lost its drive." ...Source

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