Professor LavittArt Appreciation 6-34253
2 April 2022
Readymade is described as an everyday object selected and designated as art, which came from French artist Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp, who was born in 1887 and died in 1968, started his career as a painter. Throughout his career, he created many pieces of art: paintings and sculptures. He always remained true to himself and only created what he wanted to create. The first piece of readymade art was made in 1913, the Bicycle Wheel, a wheel mounted on a stool. This piece was in protest against the vast importance of the works of art. The piece was deemed a “readymade assisted” because Duchamp combined two separate objects instead of one element. Duchamp went on to make “pure readymades” by creating art consisting of single elements; Bottle Rack, made in 1914 and the most popular known readymade, the porcelain urinal, Fountain, made in 1917 (Gaiger, 76).
Artist Duchamp and his readymade art were welcomed by the artists who created the Dada movement from 1916 to the 1920s. Dada is described as the nihilistic and anti-aesthetic movements in art that became popular in primarily Zurich, Switzerland, New York City, Belin, Germany, and Paris in the early 20th century (Gaiger, 76). Dada did not have an actual artistic style. It promoted group collaborations, spontaneous work and just an overall chance—many Dadaists created collages and object construction pieces rather than paintings and sculptures. Dada became very popular in New York City, mainly because the anti-art movement gave those who could not get work when the economy was terrible a way to express themselves.
Readymades play a significant part in art today because it has opened the door to a new outlook on creations. Almost anything can be deemed and looked at as art in today’s world. Putting objects and different elements together to make something large or small has added another genre to art. In my own personal opinion, if I was ever to be an artist, I think it would be easier for me to create readymade art instead of painting or making sculptures. I can’t paint or draw to save my life. Each readymade plays a significant value in art because it adds a different way to look at something put together.
When I see readymades, I understand the idea behind it. You can literally see a chair, a table or even a trash can and think of a different way to use it. Then after you reconstruct it or modify it, you get a completely different outlook on something. When someone looks at an object that has been altered like that, they get to see something from another perspective literally. This was one reason why Duchamp would have been one of the best readymade artists of all time; he had an idea for everything. Duchamp created sculptures from an old bicycle wheel, cutlery and even coat racks (Gaiger, 76). He transformed those into sculptures that he would call readymades.
There are many different practices and ways to make a readymade, but the most common is putting together things found around the house like an old chair, a table or even junk found in the dumpster. Duchamp created his theory on what made a “readymade”. He stated that everything has already been made except for us, so we can take an object and create something out of it. He would find objects and make them into art pieces or sculptures that he would call readymades because they were made by hand or their creator. After he first came up with this theory, the world was opened to many more ways to create art.
Duchamp found the everyday objects around him and created a new way for us to look at them. He chose ordinary things that we might see on a daily basis. For example, in 1917, he took a baby bottle and simply turned it upside down so that it would be no longer seen as what it was originally made for but now seen as an art piece. Duchamp would use everyday items to create pieces of art. He did not make anything that was extremely difficult and artistic, but the simple act of turning an ordinary object upside down made it into something extraordinary.
When Duchamp first found out about this new theory, he was shocked because he thought it was ridiculous, but after a while, he began to accept that anyone could make art from ordinary stuff around them. This led him to start taking art classes at the School of Fine Arts and attracted the attention of Marcel Duchamp’s friends Pablo Picasso and Jean Dubuffet (Gaiger, 76). After Duchamp began to exhibit his art, people wondered how he could create such strange pieces of art. In the end, he decided that it was not important how it was done but rather the product; the readymade.
In conclusion, before Duchamp made readymades, only things like paintings and sculptures could be considered fine art. The creation of readymades opened up a whole new world for artists to explore many different kinds of art and to broaden their horizons in creating new things. With the creation of this new type of art, artists began to wonder what else they could do with objects already created by someone else besides making them into something else.
“The $150,000 Banana” YouTube, uploaded by The Art Assignment, 3 January 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=so8sB25IL4o“The Case for Conceptual Art” YouTube, uploaded by The Art Assignment, 26 July 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHLs76HLon4
Gaiger, Jason. “Interpreting the readymade: Marcel Duchamp’s Bottlerack.” Frameworks for Modern Art (2003): 57-104.
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