Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Ready Made, Made" Part 2

Right around the period of Duchamp's "Ready Made," he did the painting "Nude Descending a Staircase" along with other, more conventional works of art.  When he created "Ready Made," he wasn't quite sure what it was, and it took him a few years to figure out.  Eventually, he gave it the title, "Ready Made."  This idea of taking something from one context and putting it into a new context allows for a transformation of that thing.  That transformation from life to art, along with the boundary between them, has fascinated artists such as Jasper Johns, John Cage, and many more, right up into contemporary artists who are working now in video and other media. It's really about the two categories of experience--life and art--and what the difference is and how this boundary interacts.  

Another interesting thing about my sculpture and Marcel Duchamp's is that my sculpture is made out of wood--shaped wood, carved wood; wood that has weight and physical mass.  Who inspired the use of wood?  It was the other great modernist sculptor, Constantin Brancusi, who was friends with Duchamp. In 1913, Duchamp told Brancusi that painting was fucked--washed up.  For him, painting was no more; a thing of the past.  He also told him that nobody could make a sculptural form as beautiful as an aircraft's propeller.  These conversations they had were very significant for both of them in terms of developing the simplistic form, reducing form down into its essence--just like a propeller--nothing extra, nothing added on.  Just the essence of that form.  Duchamp was a very talented man at living--traveling, living with different people.  He even invented another persona as a woman.  He could travel without a suitcase all over the world with just an extra shirt.  He ate maybe an egg for the whole day and that kept him going.  His work didn't really have much commercial value in the early teens and the 20's.  How he supplemented his income is interesting because he kind of unofficially represented Brancusi and sold a lot of his sculptures in the United States as an underground dealer.  So that's another connection that I tie into with this sculpture, because its based on the ideas inspired by Duchamp.  However, the material and celebration of form, and the essence of form is a reference to Brancusi.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"Ready Made, Made"

This piece is called "Ready Made, Made."  It's made out of wood and epoxy resin.  It's a sort of homage to Marcel Duchamp.  In 1913, he drilled a hole through a round stool and stuck the stem of the bicycle wheel up into it so the front fork holds the wheel upside down.  This was the beginning of "Ready Made" before he called it that.   He didn't really think of it as a sculpture, he just did it because it gave him amusement.  Then, in 1915, he went to the US, around the time he did the Urinal at the Armory show, and still, he didn't take it so seriously.  He came up with the name "Ready Made" to describe it.  The bicycle wheel is the first "Ready Made," and it still resonates through conceptual art to this day.  He came up with the idea that by taking something from life, like a bicycle and stool, and putting it into a new context of an art gallery or museum, it suddenly becomes art.  The notion that there's no boundary between art and life has interested conceptual artists right through to our times.  Exploring this boundary has become quite commonplace.

 The idea for my piece, "Ready Made, Made," has been in my mind for a long time.  Its origins go back to my early years, when I first learned about Duchamp and his new approach to making art.  There's a kind of Talmudic philosophy of discourse involving switching sides, taking your opponents philosophical worldview and arguing for it instead of against it.  I guess that's what I'm doing with my wheel.  In other words, I'm doing just the opposite of Duchamp, in that nothing about my piece is "Ready Made."  Instead, it is elaborately hand-crafted, and represents the opposite sentiment about the boundary between art and life.  I'm not exactly sure what it means.  I've been thinking about it for a long time, but I never quite figured out whether I'm a genius or an absolute moron to do it.  In the same way Duchamp simply felt compelled to fasten a wheel to a stool for sheer amusement, I felt the same way--I just wanted to do it.  Of course, I did it because of the art historical opportunity, but also because I love working with this material; I love the proportion of the wheel and it's weight. I love the challenge of making it rotate in a simple, satisfying way; the way a bearing on a bicycle wheel just rolls without any resistance.  I love the design of the front fork and the way I made a wheel out of solid wood. There is a certain wonder that comes from making something so ordinary from scratch by yourself.  It's almost as if it is the first wheel ever invented.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

New Sculpture in Progress

 Rick is working on a new sculpture... Can anyone guess what it is?