"The creation of art is not the fulfillment of a need but the creation of a need.
The world never needed Beethoven's Fifth Symphony until he created it. Now we could not live without it."

-Louis I. Kahn, Architect

Monday, 23 November 2009

Is Contemporary Art stuck in Duchamp's urinal?

'Fountain' 1917 urinal by Marcel Duchamp.

Since Marcel Duchamp's days, today's "contemporary art" has been a mere attempt to ape Duchamp's "anti-Art dadaist statement". Often taken out of context, both political and social (this was during First World War) our today's contemporary young artists look at this superficially and believe that "urinals" are art!
Duchamp was an anarchist, opposed to the war and the political elites associated with it, he therefore was disgusted by pompous "academic art" aka the "Art establishment", the "bourgeois" and all the financial and statutory privileges associated with it. He considered them as guilty by "joint enterprise". This made him feel the need to urinate, hence his "urinal"...
Today the anarchist/punk Duchamp would certainly challenge our "Contemporary Art Establishment" (aka Turner prize, Saatchi, YBA etc) whose members spend most of their time and mental energy asking themselves whether "this is Art or not?" (as if "stuck") to find this comforting answer : money. Contemporary art has just become an empty and vain commodity whose "value" is defined by a greedy speculative market.
Should you be surprised that viewing today's "contemporary art" makes me feel the need to urinate too?

1 comment:

  1. Etymology of "con-temporary" art:


    1. involving abuse of confidence: a con trick.
    –verb (used with object)
    2. to swindle; trick: That crook conned me out of all my savings.
    3. to persuade by deception, cajolery, etc.
    4. a confidence game or swindle.
    5. a lie, exaggeration, or glib self-serving talk: He had a dozen different cons for getting out of paying traffic tickets.
    1895–1900, Americanism; by shortening of confidence

    5  /kɒn/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [kon] Show IPA
    –noun Slang.
    a convict.
    1715–25; by shortening


    1. lasting, existing, serving, or effective for a time only; not permanent: a temporary need; a temporary job.
    2. an office worker hired, usually through an agency on a per diem basis, for a short period of time.
    1540–50; < L temporārius, equiv. to tempor- (s. of tempus) time + -ārius -ary

    1. impermanent, passing. Temporary, transient, transitory agree in referring to that which is not lasting or permanent. Temporary implies an arrangement established with no thought of continuance but with the idea of being changed soon: a temporary structure. Transient describes that which is in the process of passing by, and which will therefore last or stay only a short time: a transient condition. Transitory describes an innate characteristic by which a thing, by its very nature, lasts only a short time: Life is transitory.

    From http://dictionary.reference.com/