Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Nude descending a staircase - Marcel Duchamp

This painting kicked off a firestorm when it was first shown at the Armory show in 1913. (Would it do so now, do you think?)

So what's your opinion: Good art, bad art, or "an explosion in a shingle factory"? Or would you prefer this nude descending a staircase?

As they say in exam questions, please back up your answer.

LINK: Nude Descending a Staircase - Wikipedia
The Armory Show - University at Buffalo



Blogger MikeE said...

Where are the boobies?

9/26/2006 07:07:00 p.m.  
Blogger Elliot said...

Actually, I think it's a wooden sculpture of Helen Clark.

It shattered whilst descending the stairs due to no Resource Consent, and suffering from "Leaky Statue Syndrome".

9/26/2006 11:28:00 p.m.  
Anonymous Joy said...

For me, it's good art. Now, to back up my response.

First, I love the "under construction" aspect. It's a bit like watching the screen as my computer renders all the layers of infrastructure for a city street map.

Second, it's like watching a person walking down the stairs through the corner of your eye - or the bottom of a pint glass. You don't notice the face or details. It's the movement of an arm, the tilt of the head, the way the toes angle down to the next step.

9/27/2006 05:28:00 a.m.  
Anonymous AngloAmerican said...

I rate is as good art because you could hang it on the wall and it would look pretty good. It would also be a talking point. You could say, "Hey waddya think of my nude walking down the stairs picture?" Your guest would look at it for a while and say something like, "it's clever".

It's an abstract painting that makes sense - like a bridge between the modern and old.

9/27/2006 06:28:00 a.m.  
Blogger phil said...

Thank you, PC.
The first time I saw this painting, I was awestruck. It remains (for me) one the canonical masterpieces in all art. Although considering his other efforts, Duchamps is a bit of one-hit wonder, imo.

Good art? Yes.
It represents one of art's great, eternal themes: the nude. The "human body" is depicted in photography, painting, sculpture & literature right throughout Western history, through the Greco-Roman tradition, all the way back into pre-history (if you consider Venus of Willendorf 'art').

Duchamps presents this archetypal subject in a fresh, imaginative way that perfectly embodies the rebellious 'futurist' spirit of the time and its deliberate rejection of tradition.
While not the first to superimpose 'fractured' fragments of images; his inclusion of 'movement' - recording multiple moments of time - is stunningly innovative. Although today's mass exposure to cartoon, sketches, computer graphics, etc (not to mention TV images) may have dulled its originality. Also, it seems fitting that a cubist painting, with its harsh monochromatism, should be rendered in a 'flesh-tone'.

Good art should also (imo) demonstrate a high degree of talent or craftmanship. Unlike, say, a Pollock or Rothko (where you can spill a can of paint and call it 'art'), this painting obviously took effort, skill, and a level of technique beyond the layman.

Would it kick off a firestorm today?
Only of derision. If exhibited today, critics would scoff: "Oh, just another painter having a retro-Picasso moment." But never mind them, good art has a universal appeal that touches people regardless of background, education or belief.

And good art outlives its creator; retaining power to move and thrill tomorrow's generations. A near century since first revealed, on the other side of the world, The Nude electrified me on first discovery, quite unexpectedly just flipping through a book. I'm sure this imaginative, eye-catching representation of a completely mundane event (someone descending stairs) will delight the masses well in to the future.

9/28/2006 12:14:00 a.m.  
Blogger phil said...

Oops, I mean "Duchamp"

Dang foreigners with their hard to spell names! ;-)

9/28/2006 12:17:00 a.m.  
Blogger Mark said...

Number two, definitely.

10/01/2006 12:42:00 p.m.  

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