Duchamp: Art of the Possible

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Duchamp: Art of the Possible

Directed by Matthew A. Taylor

  • USA 2018; 86 min
  • Original version: English
  • Genre: Documentary


ART OF THE POSSIBLE is broken into three acts that loosely follow the arcs of Duchamp’s life. Each act functions to explain a few core ideas: who is Marcel Duchamp; what are Duchamp’s most influential works and why are they important; and what is Duchamp’s lasting legacy from his deathto present day and how does his work shape our future.

The film starts with the story of Duchamp’s childhood, his foray into art and his first painting, Nude Descending The Staircase No. 2, which was rejected by the Cubist painters at the French Independent Artist Salon in 1912. The film dives into the era of early 20th century Paris and how scientific discoveries merged with the fine arts to set the tone for the rest of the century.

Duchamp came of age during the Cubist movement and his art explored ideas such as the fourth dimension, non-Euclidian geometry, and chance.

The rejection of the Nude Descending The Staircase No. 2in 1912 by the Salon des Indépendants in Paris set Duchamp on a path that would forever change the very foundation of art - the production of the Readymades. Not only were the Readymades revolutionary for their time but for the first time in history they addressed the question of “What is Art?” ART OF THE POSSIBLE peels back the layers of what a Readymade is and the implications of its introduction into the art narrative. The film deconstructs how the practice of spectating – or looking atan art piece –isdrastically shifted by the introduction of the Readymade.

Unlike any other art works in history, Duchamp’s Fountain and Readymades changed how spectators understand and engage with art. This effort lead to Duchamp’s groundbreaking “Creative Act Essay”in 1958 in which he states that the artist can only create half ofan art piece: the spectator and posterity are essential in creating the other half through their interpretation ofthe work and the place they give itin history.

ART OF THE POSSIBLE next focuses on Duchamp’s 1963 retrospective at the Pasadena Museum ofArt. Itis this exhibit that launches Duchamp on the contemporary art scene where work isintroduced to a new generation of rising artists. Duchamp’s ideas deeply influenced the Fluxus art movement and the artists of the time including Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono, John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Larry Bell, Ed Ruscha, Carolee Schneemann, and Jasper Johns, and opened up a new world of possibility for others following them.

The film demonstrates Duchamp’s influence on today’s culture and his impact on contemporary visual artists, graphic designers, filmmakers, technology, and musicians. The film concludes by examining the future through Duchamp’s worldview and continued major influence on art and culture.






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    Cailin McFadden