Marcel Duchamp - Spring, 1911 - Where it All Begins
by   Kurt Godwin
Published:  10/2009   Print    Post Your Comments
Updated :  11/27/12 Like toutfait on  Facebook,   Follow us on  Twitter

Published:  09/28/09   Print     Post Your Comments
Updated :  11/27/12 Like toutfait on  Facebook,   Follow us on  Twitter
Readers' Comments
Many thanks to Kurt Godwin for this richly textured comparative study of the subtly repeating formal motifs in M. Duchamp's imagery. I can't help but believe an artist who mines the sensual and critical issues of another for their own expressive growth and shared affinities will be the most facile at delving most deeply, and exquisitely, into such possibilities.
By Deborah McLeod | 10/16/09

We've got to synchronize our "Springs." I've never seen this painting, so I don't really know what it looks like, and don't, therefore, really know how to choose which of its published versions best represents it. (duh) I do know, however, that the differences in the several iterations are significant, and I think they may account for at least some of the differences in commentary. Your version of "Spring," for instance, as I am able to download and print it, is a garish Barbie pink and Cheeto (sp?) orange affair (in which the up-raised arms and the no-longer-brown-but-pink tree limbs close the open arcs of the heart.) I couldn't reconcile this with the image from which I'd learned the painting--Schwartz, 2nd ed, 1970. I chose the Schwartz, not the downloads, with which to read your paper, and that turned out to matter. To wit: I see the figure you describe in the heart's center circle, but I also see three other figures you don't describe. They call to mind the Matisse "Dance 1" and "2" (pink nudes on blue). One of them--to the immediate left of your figure--is strikingly similar to your figure, the legs are almost exactly the same. If one anticipates "Étant...," the second does also I would think. There is no discernible Mercurius in this version, but I can see some bulk on the left that with a certain tweak of two might become a centaur or maybe the lion of Venice. And finally, your "yellow linear device" does not exist in this image. So what to conclude? Nothing more insightful that that you probably didn't use the Schwartz, 2nd ed; Seigel and Marquis probably did; Schwartz himself probably did not, nor did he use your source (he may actually have used the painting). Deciphering blobs is an inexact science. Where it is totally dependent on the quirks of technology, I think it is both futile and meaningless. I'm not disputing your larger point that the young work is the incipient mature work. I'd like to see more of this, but I'm not persuaded that the evidence is in for it to begin with "Spring." Then again, as I mentioned, I've not seen the painting.
By Runcible | 10/22/09

Dear Kurt: Right off the bat, your language for academic writing is beautiful and the first three paragraphs state clearly and convincingly, your assumptions, delimitations and projections. But best, the statement of your intentions in this investigation, given the frame of your approach as a visual artist, delights the heart of this phenomenologist! And you have mastered the art of thick description! Did you write a serious master's paper? Other sideways remarks: 1) In the third paragraph, you contrast the model of Duchamp's creative process one which you offer to be linear, with any one piece just a point along a trajectory (which one assumes to be linear). If I were writing that, I would embed those two contrasting models in a cross-cultural frame which, in the shortest possible summary I have ever attempted, would offer the Duchampian model as one based in the artist's ability to tap sources and dynamics unique to that artist's own psyche, internally driven, and the linear model representing culture-based conventions, externals, for the construction of an image, accepted in the collective awareness of the culture, such as the prevailing spiritual tradition(s) of that culture. 2) Duchamp was deep in that uber-potent mix of art and psychology, all the talk and rage in the Paris cafes between the two world wars, that was aware of (and many artists actually knew) Jung and Freud. But equally influential was a psychoalnalyst and alchemist, the Viennese Herbert Silberer. His work was known by all the Surrealists and was the first solid introduction to the embedments in the world of Western symbols. Given this historical background, more can be made of the symbolism in the piece(s) you analyze. 3) Small point: In the 31st paragraph, "Schwartz and Cabanne share the opinion...", Suzanne needs to be re-introduced because she has not been established the reader's memory and it is necessary to scroll back to find out who she is. 4) The last paragraph ("Granted...") could be taken further in to the phenomenology of the period between the two world wars...see Wilson's analytical model in her psychoanalysis of Giacometti... I have a focus on that period because it represents the first time in the history of art that an internally driven model of the creative process emerged in Homo Aestheticus. That model immigrated to the US between the wars and is the model we used in writing the four non-traditional approach to teaching the visual arts at the Corcoran. That model was also ASSUMED, but not consciously taught, at Cooper and within 3 years, I was into research trying to find the reasons for the predictable attrition in three groups of students: Native Americans; Hispanics from the American SW and Japanese. That study led to my dissertation which I wrote for teachers in American art education who are teaching in the diversity that characterizes us and drives our philosophy of education.
By Rosemary Wright | 07/12/10

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