Ready-made or Bespoke: The Artist as Dandy
By Scott Martin
posted: 01-05-10

Early reviews of an upcoming exhibition of contemporary images of dandyism in art refer to Marcel Duchamp as a "leitmotif" of the artist as appropriator of utilitarian objects (shoes, belts, wheels, urinals) into gestures that liberate the commonplace through the application of taste. Arguably the successful dandy -- and Andre Breton called Duchamp “the end of the whole historical process of the development of dandyism” -- produces more or less nothing, becoming a commodity much as the commercially successful artist becomes a celebrity. In this context, the Duchampian artist performs as a curator of taste (and often in various other roles, from chess enthusiast to transvestite) without necessarily creating anything beyond his or her own personality.

And yet Duchamp made a few things . . . none of which seem to be in this exhibit, although his profile casts long and impeccable shadows.

("Sur le dandysme aujourd'hui," at the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia. Through March 21.)


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