Thursday, December 02, 2004


you're so like the lady with the mystic smile

there was an interesting article about modern art in today's guardian. i won't bother doing a link, it's easier to just post the article (i don't know why blog guys bother doing links anyway, does anybody actually click on them?):

Work of art that inspired a movement ... a urinal

Charlotte Higgins, arts correspondent
Thursday December 2, 2004
The Guardian

A humble porcelain urinal - reclining on its side, and marked with a false signature - has been named the world's most influential piece of modern art, knocking Picasso and Matisse from their traditional positions of supremacy.

Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, created in 1917, has been interpreted in innumerable different ways, including as a reference to the female sexual parts.

However, what is clear is the direct link between Duchamp's "readymade", as the artist called it, and the conceptual art that dominates today - Tracey Emin's Bed being a prime example.

According to art expert Simon Wilson, "the Duchampian notion that art can be made of anything has finally taken off. And not only about formal qualities, but about the 'edginess' of using a urinal and thus challenging bourgeois art."

The Duchamp came out top in a survey of 500 artists, curators, critics and dealers commissioned by the sponsor of the Turner prize, Gordon's. Different categories of respondents chose markedly different works, with artists in particular plumping overwhelmingly for Fountain.

"It feels like there is a new generation out there saying, 'Cut the crap - Duchamp opened up modern art'," said Mr Wilson.

He said that it was "something of a shock" that Pablo Picasso was not top, particularly since, he argued, the artist's cubist constructions of 1912 to 1914 were Duchamp's "jumping-off point". However, Picasso has not been totally erased: Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and Guernica were second and fourth in the survey.

Mr Wilson said: "Les Demoiselles was the beginning of cubism, and cubism was the most influential formal innovation in modern art. This is the single work to which we can pin the origins of modern art."

Of Guernica - the artist's unflinching depiction of the horrors of the Spanish civil war - Mr Wilson said: "Picasso re-established that art could be modern and still deal with historical events, which had been junked by impressionism."

Andy Warhol's Marilyn Diptych - with its resonances of celebrity, death and tragedy - was named the third most influential work, and Henri Matisse's The Red Studio, the fifth. Extraordinarily, however, not a single artist put Matisse among their top choices.

"Today's artists expect art to contain some social or political comment, even if that's very indirect," said Mr Wilson. "Matisse said that his art was like an armchair into which one sinks at the end of the day - it's a sort of pure sensuousness that artists today don't warm to."

And the rest of the top 10 ...

6 Joseph Beuys, I Like America and America Likes Me

7 Constantin Brancusi, Endless Column

8 Jackson Pollock, One: No 31

9 Donald Judd, 100 untitled works in mill aluminium

10 Henry Moore, Reclining Figure 1929

Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

i'm sure everybody knows the winner:

duchamp's "urinal" made the middle classes think twice every time they went to "relieve themselves" at a dinner party. there's no arguing with that one, but what about some of the others? i have to admit that i'd never heard of most of them. i went looking in google images and came up with a few. here's beuy's famous "multiple":

it's a sort of criticism of america, what with everybody looking like a socket spanner these days.

and here's matisse's "red room":

i think "henri" was trying to say something about sadness, red being the colour of sadness in russia.

judd's "aluminium mill" left me speechless:

it looks like a rusty air duct to me, but what do i know, right?

the rest of the stuff isn't even in google so i guess those artists who voted in the competition were "doing a duchamp", right? taking the piss.

one thing i don't understand about the top 10: where was that tracy ermine's bed? the one work of modern art i've read about and it didn't even make the charts.

late update (but done now to save posting again later)

ok, tomorrow i meditate and glenn "when did you last see your father?" cripes will be here with his album thing and his frisco tango talk.

see you guys on saturday.

Wow...I didn't know SK had enough juice to get requests granted. one on Canada.
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