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Title: The Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp
Authors: Filipovic, Elena
Advisors: Foster, Hal
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Keywords: artist as curator
Etant donnés
exhibition history
Marcel Duchamp
Subjects: Art history
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This study focuses on a series of fugitive operations (or what I am calling “activities”) that Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) incited in order to test, theorize, position, and even make his work as such· Not conventionally “artistic” in nature, even if intimately connected to the collection, presentation, reception, and valuation of art, these activities include Duchamp's role as administrator, archivist, art advisor, curator, publicist, reproduction-maker, and salesman of his own oeuvre· Rather than merely procedural, auxiliary, or incidental, they might be thought of as constitutive, resulting in a still understudied but profoundly influential output by an artist who redefined so much of what, hence forth, would be called art· Here, those most iconic of Duchamp’s inventions, the readymades, although not the central objects of this study, are understood as significant insofar as they were not simply “nominated” to become artworks, but more importantly, because they were <italics>curated</italics>· It is precisely through curatorial operations—relative to much of Duchamp's production, and constituting one of the central activities that this dissertation explores—that the artist rendered the discourse, institutions, marketing, and presentational strategies of art into something like his cardinal “medium·” Tracing Duchamp’s perennial relationship to photography, reproduction, the museum, and the archive, and spanning the period between 1913 and 1969, three chapters closely examine a number of undeniably material things: chapter one considers the artist's boxes of photographically replicated notes, the <italics>Box of 1914 </italics> (1913-14) and <italics>Boite verte </italics> (1934); chapter two examines documentation of ephemeral exhibitions, recording Duchamp’s curatorial interventions as well as suitcases filled with miniature reproductions, the Boite-en-valise (1938–42); and chapter three is dedicated to a permanent installation, <italics>Etant donnés 1· la chute d’eau, 2· le gaz d’éclairage</italics> (1946–66)· However, the premise of this dissertation is that all of these gain a new significance if studied in relation to the elusive activities that actually constituted them as artworks· Together, they formed a counter-conception of the role of the artist, articulating—and complicating—the conceptual stakes of much of what is known of his practice and thickening into what Walter Benjamin called the artist's “theory of the work of art·”
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

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