“Chacun son Marcel”? Plurality in the works of Marcel Duchamp
In this overview of the reception of Duchamp, the plurality of possible approaches is examined.
- Bert Jansen
- 31 March 2015
- Full text available in Leiden University Repository
I demonstrate that the cause of this diversity is primarily a result of the ambiguity of Duchamp. Dario Gamboni's conception of the artwork as a potential image allowed me to consider diverse views about Duchamp as complementary instead of mutually exclusive. Ambiguous images make the viewer aware of his active way of looking. The method I propose is similar to the "educated guesswork" of archaeologists and palaeontologists– an informed guess based on secondary evidence that supports a hypothesis.
This approach respects and values the claim of Duchamp on indifference and allows for multiple meanings of a work to coexist. That this produces a more speculative kind of art history seems consistent with the cultural life of the period around 1900 that is characterized by the desire for ambiguity.
Finally my ideas for a speculative art history will be put into practice, as I will search for that which has potentially played a role in the development of the works. Special attention is devoted to Duchamp’s language play, in which his ambiguous attitude emerges concretely.