Stupid as a painter…
Marcel Duchamp

What makes the painter stupid? Perhaps it is not only the emphasis on seeing (‘retinal art’), but also upon making. Suspending the poetics of perceptual response and manual craft. Duchamp repositions the art work as a conceptually-configured, manufactured thing. In the figure of the ready-made, all nostalgia for human making is abandoned in preference for a poetics of montage and estrangement. Rather than emerging slowly from interaction with raw materials, the ready-made appears in an instant. It represents a sudden selection from the material flux and banality of already manufactured things and an equally sudden work of perverse recontextualisation. A strange conjunction emerges here between the mechanical (non-reflective) processes of industrial manufacturing and the reflective, poetics of the ready-made. Both eliminate the temporal dimension of artisinal labour.

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