Marcel Duchamp is often viewed as an
"artist-engineer-scientist," a kind of rationalist who relied
heavily on the ideas of the French mathematician and philosopher
Henri Poincaré. Yet a complete portrait of Duchamp and his multiple
influences draws a different picture. In his 3 Standard
Stoppages (1913-1914), a work that uses chance as an artistic
medium, we see how far Duchamp subverted scientism in favor of a
radical individualistic aesthetic and experimental vision.
Unlike the Dadaists, Duchamp did more than dismiss or negate the
authority of science. He pushed scientific rationalism to the point
where its claims broke down and alternative truths were allowed to
emerge. With humor and irony, Duchamp undertook a method of
artistic research, reflection, and visual thought that focused less
on beauty than on the notion of the "possible." He became a
passionate advocate of the power of invention and thinking things
that had never been thought before.
The 3 Standard Stoppages is the ultimate realization of
the play between chance and dimension, visibility and invisibility,
high and low art, and art and anti-art. Situating Duchamp firmly
within the literature and philosophy of his time, Herbert
Molderings recaptures the spirit of a frequently misread artist-and
his thrilling aesthetic of chance.
Subjects: Philosophy, Art & Art History
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