ASRL / PERPETUAL 2014
 
Duchamp's Funeral
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 07-12-11
Adrian Ghenie, Duchampís Funeral, 2009
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Duchamp's Funeral:

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For The Reading List: Man Ray's Montparnasse
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 07-11-11
Man Ray, Kiki de Montparnasse, 1922
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It’s no easy task for a work of history to dish all the gossip you want hear and still manage to seem culturally and sociopolitically substantial. Man Ray’s Montparnasse, by Herbert Lottman (2001) does just this. Suitable for the beach or the classroom, it manages to maintain the pace of a tight page-turner while encompassing the major personages, relationships, movements and trysts at the center of Paris’s interwar bohemia...rendering them as they might have appeared in the lens of its appointed photographer: a diminutive Jew born in Philadelphia to Russian immigrants.

“All of Greenwich Village is parading up and down Rue Montparnasse,“ quipped Man Ray’s friend Marcel Duchamp, (who had already achieved notoriety in New York and was refusing to paint at any price.) Such was then the romantic tug of the 14th arrondisement for American artists, literati and starstuck aspirants, the last category of which included William Faulkner who, unpublished at 28, haunted cafes hoping for a glimpse of Joyce.

Even more perhaps than other already-established Yanks, like the macho Hemingway and the insecure Fitzgerald, Man Ray made Montparnasse his stomping ground. Facilitating this was his lengthy affair with Kiki de Montparnasse,  the unquestioned doyenne of the district, who had modeled for every major artist around and was a cabaret favorite of visiting sailors. The usefulness and neutrality of Ray’s lens also paved his way socially. He seemed to be one of the few confidantes of Andre Breton—the “pope“ of Surrealism—who never earned wrath or excommunication for his heresies. The author too applies evenhandedness, if never disinterest, to the volatile story of Dada and Surrealism: their hermetic insiderishness, their theatrical gift for hype, their violent schisms and reconciliations, their dalliances with the Communist Party, their discovery and cooptation by the haute bourgeoisie. Through it all he paints their lives and interconnections in richly textured strokes, never failing to acknowledge that they were men and women of passions and of their time,  but evoking always how far beyond that they went.

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Parisian Gallery Focuses on Multiples and Editions in New Show
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 07-10-11
Box containing the limited edition of 'Sur Marcel Duchamp' by Robert Lebel, 1958 © Succession Marcel Duchamp / ADAGP, Paris, 2011
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Perrotin, a gallery on Rue Turenne, in Paris that represents Tatiana Trouve and Matthew Day Jackson among other top contemporary artists, is currently hosting a exhibition entitled "Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, and Takashi Murakami: A History of Editions." By way of inciting general reflection on the issue of multiples and "mass-produced" sets in "fine" art (which really achieved widespread legitimacy only with the arrival of Warhol and Lichtenstein), Gallery Perrotin is showcasing three creators whose contributions in this realm are perhaps lesser known.  Duchamp, indeed, was one of the pioneers of the practice of signing and selling reproduced sets of his work. Examples include both the rotoreliefs -- which he produced in new editions in 1953, 1959, 1963 and 1965, distributing them internationally -- and the Box en Valises, leather packages containing miniature replicas of his entire oeuvre: everyone (theoretically) gets one.

These Duchamp considered authentic Duchamps every bit as much as say, the Large Glass that now hangs in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It is legitimate to ask of course whether this was a clever commercial ploy or a radical stride towards the democratization of art, or both/and. The German Marxist critic Walter Benjamin, in his famous essay "Art in the Age of its Mechanical Reproducibility," argued for the liberatory potential of said reproducibility -- on the grounds that it freed aesthetics from the privileged "aura" of the sacral object.

However, it is glaringly clear by now that the very industrial phenomenon the Frankfurter trumpeted can lead also to a degree of tedious fetishization (and pedantic argumentation) that would've embarassed even bygone priesthoods. (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2009/oct/22/what-is-an-andy-warhol/)

Luckily, whatever side of the big issue you come down on, there are still plenty of little whimsical gems at Perrotin worth uncovering. These include an excellent collection of dada posters and 'zines, various Duchamp-related cartoons, and an enigmatic reflective foil square stating A Guest + A Ghost = A Host (a Duchampian phrase once exegized by Stephen Jay Gould in our pages: http://www.toutfait.com/issues/issue_2/Articles/gould.html)

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Oops, They Did It Again
By Maria Goldverg
posted: 07-09-11
Just another urinal?
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During the last hundred years or so there have been numerous attempts, successful and unsuccessful, by pranksters and artists alike, to leave their mark—in other words, urinate—on Duchamp’s upturned Fountain.  On the 17th of this month, the latest attempt aired on a Youtube channel.  Two artists, positioned across from one another with the Fountain between them as though in competition, relieved themselves over Duchamp’s piece at the Tate museum.  Whether or not this particular Fountain was constructed by Duchamp himself or bought as a piece initially meant for that very purpose and later appropriated by him is a subject for debate; however, what is notable in this supposed gesture of insurrection is, well, absolutely nothing.

In other words, this has been done.  In fact, it has been done better.  At the Tate museum, the Fountain stands encased in a glass box on a pedestal, and the “performance artists” couldn’t have come close to reaching their target.  Even if they had, what would it have accomplished?  Perhaps it might serve to remind us of how fine the line between art and waste can be.  Or it might incite us to ruminate on the different ways art should or shouldn’t be experienced, appreciated, understood, or not understood.  But there are more intelligent ways of posing these questions, ways that aren’t unnecessarily insensitive to the museum’s janitorial staff.  What is lacking here is, to put it in Thierry De Duve’s terms, an insightful “indignation.”  I truly can’t help but be saddened and overwhelmed by the “phoniness” of the whole thing. 

Please don't watch the video here:

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Aren't You Bored By Duchamp's Legacy?
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 07-08-11
The Anti-Duchamp
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“Aren’t you concerned that the dialectical equation of art and anti-art might have congealed into a perverse tautology, now that even the middle class collects its products? Aren’t you bored by the phoniness of a good part of Duchamp’s legacy? Don’t you feel the powerlessness of avant-garde art to elicit indignation from a society that is too liberal but still not free enough, too eager to mask its conflict behind pluralism and too anxious to clothe its consent for cultural illiteracy in the rages of dissidence?”

--Thierry De Duve, Kant After Duchamp

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