top of page
6a01053653b3c7970b0278803b8217200d-800wi.jpg

Marcel Duchamp - Viewer 

Duchamp's art does not fall into traditional forms of fine art. He uses readymades (already manufactured objects) and treats them as artworks. Due to this he does interesting things to incorporate and interact with the viewer of his works.

“The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act” 

Macel Dechamp, Lecture given at Houstons American federation of arts, April 1957

Duchamp emphasises the viewer's role by exploring the visual perception. In his two artworks 'Glass Plaster' 1920 and 'Rotary Demisphere' 1925 are spinning rectangular plates completing a full circle. When in motion, they create a dizzy, unsettling dimension for the viewer, disturbing the visual effects for the viewer's eyes. His artwork 'Bicycle Wheel' was what he called 'assisted readymade' due to combining multiple readymade objects. This piece invited participation - the viewers could spin the wheel enjoying being pulled in to the moment they had created in his work. 

In other artworks, Duchamp would give the viewer specific instructions for experiencing his pieces. 'To be Looked at (from the other side of the glass) with One Eye, Close to, for Almost an Hour' - 1918, is an instruction left by him. In another artwork, he had painted rubber 'falsies' (prosthetic breasts) with a label attached asking the viewer to touch, closing the distance between objects and viewer.

'First Papers of Surrealism' 1942 is an exhibition that announced the arrival of surrealism in the United States. For the opening event, Duchamp invited children to play around the space, disrupting the viewer's route around the exhibition. His other contribution was 'his twine', an artwork where he laced the space with string unorthodoxly complicating the viewer's ability to get closer to the artworks.

Through these examples of Duchamp's works you can see the physical and mental effect inviting the viewer to play. As in the first three artworks, the viewer makes the artworks spin from their physical touch which starts the movement and it affects how they perceive the object.

bottom of page