5 Optical Illusions and Mechanical Art – Gyratory RotoReliefs
| Marcel Duchamps Hypnotic Rotoreliefs |
Henri-Robert-Marcel Duchamp ( French: 28 July 1887 – 2 October 1968 ) was a French-American painter, sculptor, chess player, and writer whose work is associated with Cubism, Dada, and conceptual art. Duchamp is commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, as one of the three artists who helped to define the revolutionary developments in the plastic and mechanical art arts in the opening decades of the 20th century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture.
Duchamp has had an immense impact on twentieth-century and twenty first-century mechanical art, and he had a seminal influence on the development of conceptual art. By World War I, he had rejected the work of many of his fellow artists (such as Henri Matisse) as “retinal” art, intended only to please the eye. Instead, Duchamp wanted to use art to serve the mind in mechanical art.
| Early Works & Mechanical Art |
Duchamp’s early art works align with Post-Impressionist styles and not necessarily mechanical art. He experimented with classical techniques and subjects. When he was later asked about what had influenced him at the time, Duchamp cited the work of Symbolist painter Odilon Redon, whose approach to art was not outwardly anti-academic, but quietly individual.
He studied art at the Académie Julian from 1904 to 1905, but preferred playing billiards to attending classes. During this time Duchamp drew and sold cartoons which reflected his ribald humor. Many of the drawings use verbal puns (sometimes spanning multiple languages), visual puns, or both. Such play with words and symbols engaged his imagination for the rest of his life.
In 1905, he began his compulsory military service with the 39th Infantry Regiment, working for a printer in Rouen. There he learned typography and printing processes—skills he would use in his later work.
Owing to his eldest brother Jacques’ membership in the prestigious Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture Duchamp’s work was exhibited in the 1908 Salon d’Automne, and the following year in the Salon des Indépendants. Duchamp also became lifelong friends with exuberant artist Francis Picabia after meeting him at the 1911 Salon d’Automne, and Picabia proceeded to introduce him to a lifestyle of fast cars and “high” living.
In 1911, at Jacques’ home in Puteaux, the brothers hosted a regular discussion group with Cubist artists, mechanical art artists and poets and writers also participated. The group came to be known as the Puteaux Group, or the Section d’Or. Uninterested in the Cubists’ seriousness, or in their focus on visual matters, Duchamp did not join in discussions of Cubist theory and gained a reputation of being shy. However, that same year he painted in a Cubist style and added an impression of motion by using repetitive imagery.
During this period Duchamp’s fascination with transition, change, movement, and distance became manifest, and as many artists of the time, he was intrigued with the concept of depicting the fourth dimension in art.
| Personal Life |
Throughout his adult life, Duchamp was a passionate smoker of Habana cigars.
Duchamp became a United States citizen in 1955.
In June 1927, Duchamp married Lydie Sarazin-Lavassor; however, they divorced six months later. It was rumored that Duchamp had chosen a marriage of convenience, because Sarazin-Lavassor was the daughter of a wealthy automobile manufacturer. Early in January 1928, Duchamp said that he could no longer bear the responsibility and confinement of marriage, and they were soon divorced.
Between 1946 and 1951 Maria Martins was his mistress.
In 1954, he and Alexina “Teeny” Sattler married. They remained together until his death.
| Legacy |
Many critics consider Duchamp to be one of the most important mechanical art artists of the 20th century, and his output influenced the development of post–World War I Western art. He advised modern art collectors, such as Peggy Guggenheim and other prominent figures, thereby helping to shape the tastes of Western art during this period. He challenged conventional thought about artistic processes and rejected the emerging art market, through subversive anti-art. He famously dubbed a urinal art and named it Fountain.
Duchamp produced relatively few artworks and remained mostly aloof of the avant-garde circles of his time. He went on to pretend to abandon art and devote the rest of his life to chess, while secretly continuing to make art. In 1958 Duchamp said of creativity,
The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.
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