Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp
This groundbreaking book tells a new story of the twentieth century's most influential artist, recounted not so much through his artwork as through his "non-art" work. Marcel Duchamp is largely understood in critical and popular discourse in terms of the objects he produced -- whether readymade or meticulously fabricated. Elena Filipovic asks us instead to understand Duchamp's art through activities not normally seen as artistic -- from exhibition making and art dealing to administrating and publicizing. These were no occasional pursuits; Filipovic argues that for Duchamp, these curatorial tasks were a veritable lifework.
Filipovic traces a variety of practices and projects undertaken by Duchamp from 1913 to 1969, from the invention of the readymade to the release of his last, posthumous work. She examines Duchamp's note writing, archiving, and quasi-photographic activities, which resulted in the Box of 1914 and Boîte verte; his art dealing, marketing, and curating that culminated in experimental exhibitions for the Surrealists and his miniature museum, the Boîte-en-valise; and his administrative efforts and clandestine maneuvering in order to realize his posthumous Etant donnés. Filipovic's detailed study proposes that Duchamp's "non-art" labor, and in particular his curatorial strategies, more than merely accompanied his artworks; in a certain sense, they made them.
Duchamp's elusive but vital activities revealed how artworks signify and are transformed by their institutional context. These activities were, in short, only apparently marginal. With them, Duchamp revised the idea of what a modern artist could be. With this fascinating book, Filipovic in turn revises our ideas of Duchamp.