Contemporary art is attracting attention from various aspects.

There is one artist who is indispensable when discussing contemporary art.

His name is Marcel Duchamp.

He revolutionized the way we appreciate art and sublimated art into a new form. Let's see what kind of art Duchamp's work is.

The Art of Seeing and the Art of Thinking

One of Duchamp's greatest achievements was the creation of the interpretation that art is a dialogue between the viewer and the artist.

He criticized the art before him as "retinal painting," which enjoys stimulation through the eyes. He meant art that could be judged "great" or "not great" at a glance.

"Liberty Leading the People" Eugène Delacroix
"Impression, Sunrise" Claude Monet

In these artworks, we are able to judge the quality of the paintings by looking at the precision of the lines, the sense of color, and the skill in accurately depicting the subject matter.

He hoped to develop not such art that pierces the eye, but art that pierces the spirit.

What Duchamp is appealing for is art that approaches the spirit, art that generates thought.

"Fountain" Marcel Duchamp

This work here is "Fountain", known as the most famous contemporary art in the world. It is simply a male urinal with the signature "R. Mutt. This work was created in 1917 and caused controversy.

Although it was not allowed to be exhibited in the planned public exhibition, this work is called the beginning of modern art, and it will make you think about art in a new way.

What do you think of this work?

There may be few people who think, "This is a wonderful artwork! Rather, you may think, "Why is this art?"

This is the essence of Duchamp's work.

Duchamp's Art Philosophy

Duchamp was very fond of chess.

For Duchamp, art is a way to enjoy thinking.

Like the "Fountain" mentioned above, when you see his works, you may ask yourself, "What is this? or "Why is this art?"

This is in accordance with his idea that art is realized when the viewer actively thinks about a work, which until now has been perceived passively.

This is in accordance with Duchamp's idea that art is realized when the viewer actively thinks about the work of art, which until now has been perceived passively.

In other words, art is not something beautiful that can be recognized at a glance, but is defined as something that is formed within the viewer, with thought going into the foundation of the work.

This idea can be seen in the current art scene, and is the basis of the work of all contemporary artists, including Damien Hirst and Basquiat.

Duchamp's Works

  • "Fountain"

As mentioned above, "Fountain" changed the world art scene. It was produced in 1917 and is simply signed "R. Mutt" on the urinal.

It was scheduled to be exhibited at an exhibition in New York, where it could be exhibited without examination as long as the exhibitor paid the exhibition fee, but this work was rejected. As a result, it was exhibited in a different exhibition, causing controversy.

The original work was subsequently lost. As a result, only a replica exists today.

What this work shows is the denial of the art of the past, and that art that can only be appreciated has no meaning. It showed that art is an object that serves as a starting point for thought, and opened up new artistic possibilities.

  • L.H.O.O.Q.

"L.H.O.O.G." was created in 1919.

It is simply a cheap postcard of Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" to which he added a mustache and goatee in pencil.

Many may wonder if this is art, and this is Duchamp's tomfoolery. However, even a joke can be art.

At that time, the trend was "Dadaism," the idea of breaking down conventional ideas that had been thought to be correct.

Mona Lisa" was considered a noble work of art. This work, which seems to poke fun at the Mona Lisa, seems to say goodbye to the history of art.

The title, written in French, translates to "She has a hot ass," meaning a sexually aroused woman.

Is this another manifestation of Duchamp's Dadaism? This goofiness of his is said to mean 'People take art too seriously.'

  • The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even

This work was completed in 1923. It is an object work, not a painting.

In contrast to "Fountain," which is just a sign on a toilet bowl, it was created from two pieces of glass, fuse wire, dust, and other materials in a complex composition that took 8 years to complete.

The bride is in the upper part. The objects on the left side of the lower section represent the nine bachelors.

According to Duchamp, this work represents human eroticism, which moves between the bride and the bachelors, virginity and lust, and reason.

The more we look at this work, the less we understand it. It doesn't make sense to us even if we learn that it represents human eroticism.

As the above two works also show, it seems that Duchamp's works are based on the concept that if you make people think about the meaning, it becomes art.


Duchamp elevated art from passive to active.

It might be said that this attempt by Duchamp made art harder to understand.
However, it is a fact that this idea has evolved art to a new level.

It is also true that the more we think about it, the less we understand it. However, that 'thinking' itself is Duchamp's art. In other words, the work itself can be anything, as long as it gives us an opportunity to think about the meaning.

Today, new styles and artworks continue to emerge based on this idea.

To learn more about contemporary art, please check the following articles.

The World's Biggest EC Mall for Contemporary Art

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