The extraordinary "Seduction of Duchamp" exhibition that gave 35 Bay Area artists a place to comment on Marcel Duchamp's preoccupations and career is re-opening at ArtZone 461 in San Francisco on Saturday, January 9. Two panel discussions, one on chance operations in art (January 19) and the other on the lingering influence of Duchamp on today's artists (January 31), are planned.
(For a thoughtful review of the show in its original venue in a former slaughterhouse in nearby Healdsburg, click here.)
As art critic Richard B. Woodward points out, the artistic establishment that Man Ray and his Dada compatriots were rebelling against now seems impossibly distant from contemporary concerns, which forces contemporary critics to dig beyond mere provocation as a justification for the work's current relevance. Ultimately, yes, Man Ray was a self-created enigma, revealed through his art and forensic biography. But ultimately, the objects and the images have to speak for themselves, and as Mr. Woodward notes, they are well-crafted indeed.
Known as "the Queen of Greenwich Village" in her prime, Clara Tice was an illustrator, designer and (along with Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Stella and others) member of the artistic salon that crystallized around collector Walter Arensberg before his 1922 departure to California -- and then, afterward, continuing on without him. An assortment of her mordant ink drawings is currently on display at Meredith Ward Fine Art in New York, through January 15.
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.
While Andy Warhol cultivated significant creative distance from his dada forebears, that didn't stop him from occasionally documenting the movements of Marcel Duchamp in the 1960s, or from flirting with a more substantial project filming Duchamp on the model of his eight-hour Empire. Those interested in plumbing the connections between the two artists should find plenty to think about at the Warhol Museum's upcoming show, "Twisted Pair: Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol." (May 22 through September 6; Pittsburgh)
In the meantime, a retrospective show of the work of Nat Finkelstein, Warhol's unofficial "court photographer," contains portraits of Duchamp and less peripheral figures in Warhol's world. (Idea Generation Gallery, January 20 through February 14; London)