Marcel DuChamp: The Art of the Possible | Chicago Reader
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Marcel DuChamp: The Art of the Possible

Director Matthew Taylor’s Marcel DuChamp: The Art of the Possible enjoyably plots out how the legendary 20th century artist unapologetically eschewed traditional modes of aesthetic representation, eventually bringing those modes into the realm of the conceptual. Taylor calls on artists, historians, and curators to comment on Duchamp’s legacy, interweaving occasional extracts from various interviews with Duchamp himself. Viewers should pay attention to Taylor’s subtitle, “The Art of the Possible,” though—the filmmaker is paying attention here to Duchamp’s body of work and its lasting impact much more than his biography. Among the myriad of episodes the film recounts are the reception of Duchamp’s legendary painting Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2; his frequent creation of so-called “ready-mades,” found objects which he’d sign, presumably ascribing them with additional aesthetic meaning; and his Large Glass installation, the meticulous documentation of which is as well known as the original work. “His recognition of the lack of art in art, and the artfulness in everything, I think, is his most important contribution,” says artist Robert Rauschenberg of Duchamp in a vintage interview. Taylor flirts dangerously with hagiography on occasion, given the sometimes- repetitious praise for Duchamp’s legacy, particularly as the film draws to its close. But this is nevertheless a skillful account of both the artist’s inspirations and process, and how his work continues to have an impact even as we progress through the digital age.

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