The Instigator
abreufortaleza
Con (against)
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The Contender
Skeptic111
Pro (for)
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Was Duchamp really useful and necessary to art?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/26/2014 Category: Arts
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,207 times Debate No: 46835
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
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abreufortaleza

Con

I'm not close minded to art at all. I think Pollock is a genius, Dali is funny and paints well although his themes suck sometimes, Klee has one of the best uses of colour I've ever seen... But Duchamp... he didn't believe in art. He didn't believe in his OWN art. When he grabs a shovel and puts it hanging from the museum ceiling, he mocks, instead of making, modern art.
Skeptic111

Pro

Thank you for an interesting debate topic. I accept, and will argue that Marcel Duchamp's work holds an important vital place in the history of 20th Century Western Art because of how it expanded the concept of art, and because of how many contemporary artists owe their work to foundations which he established.
Debate Round No. 1
abreufortaleza

Con

Enrique Vila-Matas, through one of his characters in Bartleby and company, says about Duchamp: "I really admire him and, besides, he is a man who gives luck [...] What I most admire about him is that he was a great impostor". He's an impostor exactly because of this so called "expansion of the concept of art". Conceptual art really has its father in Duchamp, but we should consider two things before saying he was as important as Cezanne, Picasso and other great painters of the initial modernism. First: although some readymades were profound and poetic, as the "Unhappy Readymade", most of them only had the intention of shocking and HADN'T A REAL CONCEPT BEHIND THEM. We can argue that even before conceptualism was born, deconceptualism, as named by Michael Paraskos, was already there: conceptualism without true ideas. That could have easily killed art (and surely stole some of its life, as we see today) if not for the constructivists, saving intellectual effort to the work itself and the sensorial state, and for abstract expressionists, searching for an art purer than ever: an art were cynicism could not dwell, rightly pushing the haunting shade of Duchamp away. Sadly, it found home at 2000's art: Damien Hirst the most obvious example (blergh). Second: is that always positive? To expand the concept of art? If we answer with a resolute yes, we'll have to deal with the "art-pantheism" of brazilian neo-concretist poets, that consider poetry to be anything: the day-to-day, the time, popular protests... instead of what it really is: the primitive feeling of curse and blessing that comes with WHAT IS SAID about those things. That "pantheist" vision is believed to enrich art. It actually consumes its meaning and put a void in its place.
Skeptic111

Pro


Marcel Duchamp made some of the seminal iconic works of art in the 20th Century. As a founding member of the Dada movement, his art questioned many conventions of the art world, such as authorship, context, and the purpose of art. Duchamp flourished in New York between the world wars- and was a product of the time, and the place. His work remains to this day a touchstone for many contemporary artists- such as Damien Hirst and Ai Weiwei.

Many artists' work builds from Duchamp. Works with provocative titles, such as Damien Hurst's embalmed shark in a tank entitled: "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living"
http://en.wikipedia.org...;
This work clearly builds on the precedent of Duchamp's work. Such as his piece which is a Snow Shovel suspended and entitled: "In advance of a Broken Arm". Both these pieces take existing objects- termed "readymades" by Duchamp, and places them out of context and gives the object a provocative title. According to Janson's History of Art, "Unlike all art that preceded his, his Readymades have no aesthetic value and theoretically no intended meaning. they are merely a device to launch ideas."

Duchamp intentionally used objects that were mass produced, in a form of 3-Dimensional collage. Collage is an existing art form which uses found 2D images and combines them in artistic ways. Duchamp made collage with 3D objects such as in "Bicycle Wheel" -http://imageobjecttext.com...

a wheel mounted onto a stool. One could say this combination invited viewers to see these objects in a purely aesthetic sense, rather than as utilitarian objects. One can see an echo of this work in Ai Weiwei's bicycle installations: Forever Bicycles- http://www.fastcodesign.com...

which is an installation of over 1,000 bikes in a beautiful array...

Whether of not one finds Duchamp's work pleasing, or aesthetically valuable, it was relevant, and it did have a major impact on western art. Duchamp himself defended his art by saying, "Whether Mr. Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He chose. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared... creating a new thought for that object."
Debate Round No. 2
abreufortaleza

Con

You did not solve the problem I proposed before: whether or not to expand the very concept of art is always positive. Those who'd answer with a yes gave us Damien Hirst, a bad (whatever possible meaning "bad" has) artist, and as both of us agree, Damien is greatly influenced by Duchamp. With Weiwei's bycicles is another story, not because it doesn't have anything to do with Duchamp, but because it shows us he still cares about pure sensorialism. That didn't came from Duchamp. That came from classical artists that cared about what we should see and feel when in front of their work, not only with empty conceptualism. The wheel on the stool isn't good for defying art paradigms or anything like that. It finds its aesthetic value in representing the absurd. If we didn't have Duchamp, we would still have Picasso, who did collage too, but also used it along traditicional painting and still believed in the role of the artist. Duchamp couldn't see it, but to make his work effective the artist's eye and mind had to be there.

P.S. The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living sucks!!!
Skeptic111

Pro


First of all- this debate is only about Duchamp, not all artists who try to redefine art. Is it “always positive to expand the concept of art”? Positive- is a relative term. The art world finds it’s own balance. There are critics and audience and collectors, and they are the ones who determine what has value and what does not. Individuals can choose. The act of choosing itself is at the very core of the idea behind Duchamp’s work. It is about choice. If there was no choice- we would all be forced to look at only sanctioned artists. There would be censorship and only “good” art. Duchamp revealed this quite clearly in his work- that there is freedom in the art world- and art is as much defined by the artist, as it is by the public.


Art does not always have a positive impact at all. But Duchamp’s pieces were useful and necessary to art, as is the debated issue.


One cannot claim, for example, all Portraiture, or all Cubism, or all Impressionism is good art. There are examples of those styles that aren’t strong. Yet they are all legitimate styles, they are all “useful and necessary to art”.


The concept of art at the time of Duchamp needed to be expanded. Duchamp was not the only artist engaged in the Dada movement, but he is probably the most well known of the New York Dada movement. Dadaists in Europe also used out of context pieces, readymades, and authorless works to question the prevailing artistic establishment. Also european Dadaism was necessary to jolt the viewer into reconsidering the status quo between the World Wars- for it had produced some of the most suffering and destruction seen to that day. So it was a “reorganizing attempt” to find what are the real values behind art?..


By displaying readymades and pieces which do not claim authorship... Do not claim aesthetic value, and do not claim meaning, Duchamp asks what are the intrinsic nature of art then? Where does art live then? Is there still beauty to be found? I think by removing these traditional assumptions of what an art piece is, Duchamp was able to still find beauty, still make people want to behold his work, and still found that art had the power to make people reconsider objects around them. I think that is a very fundamental contribution to the art world. A very daring one. And a very strong commentary on society.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by abreufortaleza 3 years ago
abreufortaleza
Hi! Yes, I think you've got it, one of the reasons I don't really enjoy him is this almost parasitic (in the absence of a better word, sorry) status, and the other is this profound cynicism that you say is just humor. I can't conceive humor and cynicism as disconnected pieces in Duchamp, even when I really try. Two reasons for this annoyance of mine with bad faith: as I said, it is responsible for the watering down of art today, with the fetishization of the "modern genius" type; second thing, and this really relates to you and me, is that cynicism is the plague we consider a blessing and the song in the mouth of everyone. It's "intelligent" to be ironic. It is "cool" to have no real sentimental correlation with art. So you can say Duchamp was a visionary, and that will be certain. But what he saw was darkness, only he didn't name it so. Sorry for being so pessimist! I just think art should be something celebrated and believed, especially in a world where tradition shrinks. I, as an atheist, feel much more confortable knowing that even without religion there can be some sort of spiritualism. Don't you?

Anyway, I think I should have made this debate with more rounds. It was my first and I didn't know how to make it right. I won't extend my monologue, though. Thank you for debating!
Posted by Skeptic111 3 years ago
Skeptic111
I think your point about Duchamp being a secondary player is probably well taken. He's not in the same league as Cezanne and Picasso, and Pollack. Granted. And he is a trickster. I agree. I don't think his work was intended to be more than that. I think his work was a catalyst more, a commentary. I do feel that it is valid- that not all art needs to be masterpiece, some of it can work in a secondary way.
On the subject if this is bad for art/ good for art. I agree that Duchamp can be seen as replacing sincerity with tricksterism... One can make that argument. Is is cynical art? I'd rather see it as humorous. I think it pokes fun at people. One can say his work only "works" in the presence of other serious artists around him, because it is a commentary on those works. And I think that might be the point you are arguing?..
Well debated! Thanks. It was a tough defense for me.
Posted by Skeptic111 3 years ago
Skeptic111
hi, this is a fun topic. I could see arguing both sides of this. I'm not particularly a huge fan of Duchamp, but I went to art school, and enjoy a good debate. I think you could make a good argument with con if you toughen it up!... : )
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