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ART History - Essay Example

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18 March 2011 Write a defense, whether you personally like them or not, of Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain” and Bruce Nauman’s “Fountain” as significant works of art The cruel nature of the First World War, which resulted in numerous deaths and mutilations, had a very strong psychological impact on the generation at the time…
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Download file to see previous pages “The Dadaists’ pessimism and disgust surfaced in their disdain for convention and tradition. These artists made a concerted and sustained attempt to undermine cherished notions and assumptions about art” (Kleiner 928). Therefore, the movement came to question former artistic standards by denying any existing connection between reason and logic on one hand and artistic expression on the other hand. Marcel Duchamp was one of the most important representatives of the Dada movement and was also known as a hero of anti-art, because he challenged traditional artistic conventions. One of the facts that earned him this characteristic was his exhibit the ready-made sculptures in 1913. These were casual objects abandoned by their and stumbled upon by the artist on the streets or somewhere else; Duchamp altered or combined them with other objects in order to created the so called ready-mades. This way, the objects lose their utilitarian function and gain an artistic one. One of the most famous ready-mades, which triggered the public’s strong reactions of admiration or disagreement, was the Fountain, which is illustrated in the first image below. It is a porcelain urinal, which Marcel Duchamp altered by adding the signature (“R. Mutt”) and the year of 1917, carelessly written on the left side of the urinal. The signature has its roots in the mundane as well, since “R. Mutt” is not a famous, important name but rather pseudonym which derived from the name of a plumbing company, Mott. Perhaps the name of the readymade is the one that makes the piece so interesting; fountain suggests somewhat the idea of a beautiful architectural monument, while Marcel Duchamp’s fountain is a tribute derived from a simple object that serves basic human physiological needs. Nothing extraordinary, yet somewhat challenging for the human perception. However, I would like to emphasize the fact that Duchamp did not choose to exhibit the Fountain aesthetical purposes, since it would have been a contradiction to the Dada philosophy. Still, even if it does not have an aesthetical role, the Fountain has profound resonances as an important work of art; meaning of this artwork is that it he challenges the viewer to see a simple, ordinary object from a different angle and this way, to gain new a perspective and find a new use for it. Therefore, the Dada movement did not try to create the extraordinary, but merely to put the ordinary into a whole different light and it is hard to imagine a more aggressive avant-garde approach to art (Seigel). Another artist who has also created art that challenges the traditional standards and understandings of traditional artistic thought is Bruce Nauman, an American contemporary artist who is considered to be a performance and conceptual artist. In the mid 1960s he abandoned painting and decided to focus his creative activity towards object making or modern sculpture. This way, by experimenting with different materials, that were not normally associated with an artistic function, such as latex, different kinds of wires, fiberglass, latex, concrete and even wax, he managed to make a very distinctive statement in the art world. At the same time, I believe that it is admirable that he tried to incorporate in his art modern visual aids such as neon lights, video and sounds, trying to create innovative and somewhat shocking, attention grabbing artworks, which would be able to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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