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IV. Open Conclusions

"Duchamp was the first great volunteer in the experimentation of living and dealing with contradiction, like those people who make a profession of putting out fires in oil wells" (Baruchello and Martin 103).

Obalk describes the process of working with Duchamp's Readymade as "a knife without a blade, and to which the handle is missing" (60).

Cementing final conclusions presents a significant challenge in the course of any argument. When the subject is Duchamp's Readymades, this challenge becomes virtually impossible and, quite probably in this case, duly unnecessary to pursue. Keeping a somewhat open-ended approach is critical in this online exhibition exercise. The pages on this site weave together in a complex, flowing format. In this hypertext format, interpretations float freely and links connect spaces that are traditionally separated. This innovative organization helps to further the open idea that is the Readymade; in respect of the artist under scrutiny, nothing is really pinned down. Now at a point in the text when conclusions should be made, this reigning approach is unwavering: no concrete conclusions will be made. Many scholars over the years have supported this truly "Duchampian" approach.

As Arman explains,
"It seems impossible for anyone to learn about the work of Duchamp and not be intellectually stimulated by it. Often the fascination becomes so intense that most Duchampian players feel compelled to find a key to answer all the questions we ask ourselves when inspired by Duchamp's ideas. But there are so many ideas, so many sources of reflections. How can one key be complex enough to adapt to every idea Duchamp has confronted us with? After having spent a lot of time trying most of the keys cast by Duchamp's critics and admirers, I realized that maybe the only key is to accept an absence of a key" (15).

It seems only right to end this openly ironic presentation of the Readymades with yet another ironic twist. The Readymades are "traditionally" looked at as destructive - of traditional definitions of art, authorship, and art institutions. They have offended and repulsed, confused and outraged. They defy established ideas of the term "art." However, as Jouffroy and Penwarden explain, "...if we apprehend all artistic creation as a free manifestation of thought, then the readymades are closer to art than most of the paintings and sculptures that have been turned out since 1910 They force viewers to situate themselves in thought, to apprehend only thought at the moment of apprehending the object" (47).

In the end, these so-called Readymades may just be closer to true "artwork" than many realize. Such a question is perplexing, and like the infinite list of other questions surrounding the Readymades, it will never truly be "answered." Duchamp has passed away, leaving us with a very challenging group of objects full of "irony, playfulness, eroticism and strategic nonsense" (Kuenzli Marcel 2). In the end, it seems we mustn't be so intent on the answers. Duchamp wouldn't have wanted it that way. We are no closer to any true answers about what may be the "most vigorously analyzed objects" of the twentieth century now than we were the October night in 1968 when Duchamp left us to fend for ourselves (Ratcliff 85). So no matter how frustrating the task of analyzing the Readymades may become at times, we must remind ourselves that, as Duchamp might say, "But that's the fun of it!"

Works Cited

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