Perhaps no twentieth-century artist utilized puns and linguistic ambiguity with greater effect—and greater controversy—than Marcel Duchamp. Through a careful "unpacking" of his major works, Dalia Judovitz finds that Duchamp may well have the last laugh. She examines how he interpreted notions of mechanical reproduction in order to redefine the meaning and value of the art object, the artist, and artistic production.
Judovitz begins with Duchamp's supposed abandonment of painting and his subsequent return to material that mimics art without being readily classifiable as such. Her book questions his paradoxical renunciation of pictorial and artistic conventions while continuing to evoke and speculatively draw upon them. She offers insightful analyses of his major works including The Large Glass, Fountain and Given 1) the waterfall, 2) the illuminating gas.
Duchamp, a poser and solver of problems, occupied himself with issues of genre, gender, and representation. His puns, double entendres, and word games become poetic machines, all part of his intellectual quest for the very limits of nature, culture, and perception. Judovitz demonstrates how Duchamp's redefinition of artistic modes of production through reproduction opens up modernism to more speculative explorations, while clearing the ground for the aesthetic of appropriation central to postmodernism.
About the Author
Dalia Judovitz is Professor and Chair in the Department of French and Italian at Emory University. She is author of Subjectivity and Representation in Descartes: The Origins of Modernity (1988) and coeditor of Dialectic and Narrative (1993).
"The book appeals not just to art historians and critics of literature but to philosophers of methodology. Would that psychologists, anthropologists, and historians see and read this elegant and consummately designed object! Reprinting crisp reproductions of many of Duchamp's works and using a cursive typeface styled after Duchamp's signature for chapter headings and marginalia, the book is a delight to touch and behold. Both the author and the press deserve high praise not just for the content and form of the book but also for what it does to reinvent our relations with art and language." — SubStance
"Judovitz's analyses of Duchamp's works are often dazzling, sometimes genuinely funny, and always interesting. She does what a good critic should be able to do: she gets her reader to look anew at the works discussed. On the basis of these analyses, she attributes to Duchamp fundamental and often revolutionary insights into aesthetics, art history, economics, feminism, and value theory." — Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism
"Dalia Judovitz's book brings Marcel Duchamp into the limelight of a postmodern interpretation that focuses on the artist's underlying wit and sense of chance and movement as an example of "mechanical" twentieth-century art- making. Judovitz seems to understand clearly the almost preposterous assumptions that make Duchamp's work so clever, and she eloquently places his puzzling works within the context of his historic reputation for altering the foundations of modern art." — Leonardo