Question 4 (Essay)
‘Artists will either challenge or follow artistic conventions’. Discuss this statement in relation to the practice of a range of artists.
Despite many artists following artistic conventions, through the post-modern practise, artists Marcel Duchamp and Yasumasa Morimura challenge traditional conventions through their material and conceptual practise. The term ‘post-modernism’, although coined in the 1960’s and then later used throughout the late 20th century contains characteristics that are reflected in the practise of Duchamp. Through his incarnation of the ‘ready-made’ and use of contextualisation and appropriation he challenges the role of the artist and audience, moving away from convention. The post-modern artist Morimura comments on cultural globalisation through re-contextualising his own ‘self-portrait’ creating paradoxes that provoke the viewer and challenge artistic conventions.
Marcel Duchamp was born in France and spent most of his life travelling between Europe and the United States. He is one of the greatest innovators of modern art known as the “father of conceptual art”. Duchamp sits within the period of modernism and the Dadaist movement however is known as the pre-cursor to modernism through the provocative nature of his work. Dada arose as a reaction to WWI and nationalism that was thought to have brought about the war. Dadaists created works that rejected traditional values and attitudes to purposely gain a reaction. Duchamp’s use of ‘ready-mades’ as an experiment of provocation was to intentionally challenge the meaning and role of art, creating a new form of art that engaged the viewer rather than the eye. He re-contextualised these functional objects into art by placing them in a gallery space therefore challenging artistic tradition.
Duchamp’s ‘ready-made’ ‘Fountain’ (1917) challenges traditional artistic conventions through the use of a mass-produced, commercialised object as art through the ‘choice of the artist’. It consists of a urinal signed in black “R.Mutt 1917” and is one of the most iconic artworks of the 20th century despite being extremely controversial. The original piece was lost and there are many replicas of the piece questioning the authenticity of the art object. Through this, Duchamp mocks the conventional artistic institution and questions the idea of the ‘masterpiece’. He placed this object in a gallery space; “They said that any artist paying six dollars could exhibit, Mr Richard Mutt entered a fountain, without discussion the object disappeared and was never exhibited. Through Duchamp’s entry he challenges the concept of art and causes a shift away from the material practise and towards conceptual. Through his use of the ‘ready-made’ Duchamp challenges rather than followed artistic conventions by questioning the meaning of art and the intention of the artist.
‘L.H.O.O.Q’ (1919) by Marcel Duchamp is a traditional Dadaist work that rebels against convention through the use...