A Look Into Marcel Duchamp’s Visual Art

marcel-duchamp

In the visual arts, a painting or sculpture has generally considered by critics and artists alike to exist entirely free from language. Critics may write about works, but the works themselves may provoke aesthetic, universal emotion through eye pleasing visuals that exist beyond words. When one looks at the “ready-mades” of Marcel Duchamp, however, such emotion is not provoked in the same, silent sense. The titles of these pieces carry as much importance as the visual product; titles become inseparable with the meanings of the works themselves.

Through the unique titling of various ready-mades, such as his Bottle Rack, Hat Rack, Trap, and In Advance of the Broken Arm, Duchamp creates a clever blend of language and visual sense to convey meaning more potently than does conventional painting or sculpture. Each of Duchamp’s ready-mades critiques the traditional definitions of art both in terms of the how artist’s hand in the creation of a work, as well as how the viewer can contribute to the piece.

Duchamp’s titles at first glance give an impression of simplicity; the same can be said for viewing the ready-mades themselves. You could almost compare Duchamp as the Ernest Hemingway of visual arts.

Duchamp himself coined the term “ready-made” in 1915 (Masheck 13). This term describes the works as they are: objects turned to art through the artist’s loose manipulation. The ready-made comes from the everyday, but gains meaning in the sense that the artist has added his own thoughts to it. Duchamp detested the ideas of “retinal art,” all that was aesthetically intensive and of a snobbish culture, so he instead focused on achieving an intellectual expression rather than a visual one (Judovitz 88).

Comparing Hemingway’s Writing to his Life

ernest-hemingway

Ernest Hemingway is one of the great American authors of the twentieth century. Hemingway grew up in the Midwestern United States and, after working in World War I and marrying his first wife, Hadley Richards, he moved abroad and became apart of what is now known as the “lost generation”.

While Hemingway worked as a writer before leaving the United States, his most accomplished works were inspired by his personal life and involvement in the lost generation as an expatriate, as seen in A Moveable Feast.

Literature Review

Gerald J. Kennedy discusses Hemingway’s use of his personal relationships to create characters who uphold typical 1920s gender roles in her article, “Hemingway’s Gender Troubles”. Kennedy looks at the two books Hemingway wrote at the end of his life, A Moveable Feast and Garden of Eden, and notes overlapping themes in the two books. While Hemingway and Hadley illustrate ideal 1920’s masculine and feminine characters, David and Catherine break strict gender roles. Further, Kennedy finds several metaphorical uses of hunger, loneliness, and sex in regards to the men’s feelings of writing in the two books.

Scholars have looked further at Hemingway’s use of personal relationships in A Moveable Feast in comparison to Hemingway’s real relationships.